Latin America and its plant genetic richness
conservation, domestication and productive systems a policy-tecnical challenge
Keywords:appropriation, erosion, strategies, regional, sustainable
Latin America’s plant genetic richness and its contribution to world diet are presented. Some acute problems of the modern world are described, namely genetic erosion and controversies on the appropriation of plant genetic resources. A diagram is proposed for the management of plant genetic resources, from collection to productive use. The current situation with respect to the phases of this process is analysed for Latin America, with emphasis in southern countries; this analysis indicates that the collection effort is disproportionately large in relation to the final products obtained (domestication and productive use of native species). The domestication of particular species is discussed, focus being made on the historic case of yerba mate (Ilex paraguayensis). The plant genetic resources of Uruguay are discussed in detail; it is pointed out that, in spite of species identification having been completed several decades ago, cases of domestication of new species are scarce. Reflexions and proposals are made towards the integration and speeding up of different phases of the process leading to plant genetic resources utilization. These proposals should be oriented by long-term regional goals, and be applicable to specific sustainable production systems. Emphasis is placed on the need for cultural change among political and technical decision-makers, leading to a reappraisal of priorities, and to the establishment of appropriate
strategies; to be successful, these strategies need gather strong support both from the governmental sector and from farmers and local communities. It is concluded that bringing about change towards the successful use of Latin American plant genetic resources constitutes a major challenge to our political-technical creativity.
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Copyright (c) 2005 Agrociencia Uruguay
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