Toby Hodgkin, Mikkel Grum, Prem Mathur, V. Ramanatha Rao, and Ehsan Dulloo. Global Partnerships Programme Bioversity International, Via dei Tre Denari 472/a, 00157 Maccarese (Fiumicino), Rome, Italy
Genetic vulnerability, as described by FAO, results when a widely planted crop is uniformly susceptible to a pest pathogen or environmental hazard as a result of its genetic constitution, thereby creating a potential for widespread crop losses. Instances of lost production due to genetic vulnerability have been described over the last twenty years from around the world and concerns continue to be expressed over the vulnerability of several major crops in different regions. The risk of genetic vulnerability, and the need to undertake measures to reduce its occurrence, have been widely recognized by plant breeders and researchers and measures to reduce the risk, involving increased use of crop plant genetic resources, have been proposed. Article 6 of the newly adopted International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture proposes inter alia that countries undertake actions to address genetic vulnerability. In this paper we review selected cases of genetic vulnerability from around the world and consider their implications with particular respect to the ways in which the conservation and use of genetic resources can help reduce the likelihood of such vulnerability.