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Preserving traditional crops and livestock breeds

Driving endangered livestock breeds up to alpine pastures © Yannick Andrea, Pro Specie Rara

An agreement on plant genetic resources is to come into force in nine EU member states on 29 June, with only Germany featuring among alpine countries. The agreement is designed to secure the use of gene pools and free access to seed stocks and propagating materials for key agricultural crops.
On 22 May AGES, the Austrian Agency for Health and Nutrition Safety, presented the steps it has undertaken to preserve and maintain Austria's crop heritage. Besides a central gene database Index Seminum Austriae AGES also operates a gene bank with a seed stock collection. More than 5,000 seed varieties from all kinds of plants are stored, examined, tested and evaluated.
The Pro Specie Rara Foundation for its part seeks to preserve traditional breeds of domesticated animals: On 28 May some 140 domesticated animals belonging to endangered livestock breeds were driven up to the Val Cama/CH alpine pasture to fulfil their original function as farm animals.
Sources and information: www.psrara.org (de/fr), European Plant Genetic Resources Search Catalogue:
http://eurisco.ecpgr.org (en), www.save-foundation.net (de/fr/en)
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