Briefings

A Report on the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources, Rome Second Session, March 16-21, 1987

Thursday 30th April 1987

The establishment of an international fund for the conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources, participation of governments in the UN Food and Agriculture Organizations International undertaking  to promote full exchange of genetic resources, and the establishment of an international system of gene banks under FAO auspices.

Sunday 1st February 1987

Issue: The use of biotechnology to produce the intensely sweet thaumatin protein.

Plant: Thaumatin is derived from a fruit of a West-African rain forest shrub.

Countries affected: Product will be marketed as a low-calorie sweetener in Europe, Japan, USA

Impact: In combination with other newly developed sweeteners, these products offer the potential to erode traditional sugar markets

Friday 30th January 1987

Issue: Natural vanilla production via tissue culture technology.

Crop: Vanilla planifolia - the commercially important species of Vanilla orchis

Countries affected: Madagascar, Comoros islands, Reunion, Indonesia

Impact: possible loss of $67 million in annual export earnings. 

Saturday 1st November 1986

Product: Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) or Bovine Somatotropin (BST)

Purpose: Designed to dramatically increase milk production in dairy cattle

Counties affected: USA and Europe initially

Impact: Drop in milk prices, loss of 25-30% of dairy farmers, changes in cropping patterns, narrowing of genetic base of dairy cattle

Tuesday 30th September 1986

Issue: Replacement of major cash crop (Gum Arabic)

Countries affected: Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and others

Impact: Possible loss of $ 60 million in annual export earnings and seasonal employment

New starch-based substitutes for gum arabic and other water soluble gums threaten to replace a major portion of gum exports from several African countries.

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