392 | IAASTD Global Report Options for conventional plant breeding
The following options apply to plant breeding to help meet world demand for nutrition and higher yields in low exter­nal input production systems and lower resource demands in high external input production systems. However use­ful these innovations might be, biotechnology per se cannot achieve development and sustainability goals. Therefore, it is critical for policy makers to holistically consider bio­technology impacts beyond productivity goals, and address wider societal issues of capacity building, social equity and local infrastructure.
     Modern, conventional and participatory plant breeding approaches play a significant role in the development of new crop varieties (Dingkuhn et al., 2006). The exodus of a spe­cialist workforce in plant breeding (Baenziger et al., 2006), especially from the public sector, is a worrisome trend for maintaining and increasing global capacity for crop im­provement. Critical to improved plant breeding is ensuring the continuity of specialist knowledge in plant breeding. Ap­proaches that encourage research in the field and continuity of career structure for specialists are key to the continuation of conventional plant breeding knowledge.
      There is a need for new varieties of crops with high productivity in current and emerging marginal and unfa­vorable (e.g., water stressed) environments; resource limited farming systems; intensive land and resource use systems; areas of high weed pressure (Dingkuhn et al., 2006); and bioenergy. Ensuring access to locally produced high-quality seeds and to opportunities for farmer-to-farmer exchanges will improve productivity, decrease poverty and hunger, en­courage retention of local knowledge, safeguard local intel­lectual property, and further exploit the biological diversity of crop wild relatives.
      Plant breeding is facilitating the creation of new geno­types with higher yield potentials in a greater range of envi­ronments (Dingkuhn et al., 2006; Hajjar and Hodgkin, 2007) mainly through recruiting genes from within the gene pool of interbreeding plants and also through biotechnology assisted hybridization and tissue regeneration (Wenzel, 2006).
      Crop biodiversity is maintained both through ex situ and in situ conservation in the genomes of plants from which crops were derived, and in the genomes of crop relatives (Brush and Meng, 1998). The value of traits sourced from wild relatives has been estimated at US$340 million to the US economy every year (Hajjar and Hodgkin, 2007). Traits such as pest and disease resistance are usually determined by single genes. Wild relatives have so far contributed modestly as a source of genes for introduction of multigene traits, such as abiotic stress tolerances, but there is considerable diversity still to be tapped (Hajjar and Hodgkin, 2007)
      In developing countries, public plant breeding institu­tions are common but their continued existence is threat­ened by globalization and privatization (Maredia, 2001; Thomas, 2005). Plant breeding activities differ between countries; public investment in genetic improvement may benefit from research units that include local farming com­munities (Brush and Meng, 1998). Moreover, differences in intellectual property protection philosophies could en­danger in situ conservation as a resource for breeding. For example, patent protection and forms of plant variety pro-


tection place a greater value on the role of breeders than that of local communities that maintain gene pools through in situ conservation (Srinivasan, 2003).
      Options for strengthening conservation in order to pre­serve plant genetic diversity include:
•   Integrating material on the importance of biodiversity into curricula at all educational levels;
•   Channeling more resources into public awareness at CGIAR and NGO system level;
•   Facilitating national programs to conduct discussions with farmers about the long-term consequences of los­ing agrobiodiversity;
•   Studying and facilitating the scaling up of indigenous agroecosystems that feature a high degree of agrobiodi­versity awareness;
•   Involving farmers in a fully participatory manner in re­search focused on agrobiodiversity conservation;
•   Undertaking surveys of farmers and genebanks to estab­lish which communities want their landraces back, and to find out if the landrace is still maintained in a genebank;
•   Developing sustainable reintroduction campaigns;
•   Developing a  system whereby genebanks regenerate landraces and maintained them in farmers' fields: a hy­brid in situ and ex situ conservation system;
•   Involving farmers in the characterization of landraces to increase exposure and possible utilization of the ma­terial at farm level;
•   Promoting the development of registration facilities that recognize a given landrace as the indigenous property of a particular area or village to enhance the importance of the landrace as an entity that is a part of local heritage;
•   Developing   and   promoting   viable   and   sustainable multistakeholder incentive  schemes  for  communities who maintain local material in their agroecosystem.

      Provided that steps are taken to maintain local ownership and control of crop varieties, plant breeding remains a viable option for meeting development and sustainability goals. It will be important to find a balance between exclusive ac­cess secured through intellectual property (IP) mechanisms and the need for local farmers and researchers to develop locally adapted varieties (Srinivasan, 2003; Cohen, 2005). An initial approach could include facilitating NGOs to help develop the capacity of local small-scale farmers, and pro­viding farmer organizations with advisers to guide their in­vestments in local plant improvement. Optimize the pace and productivity of plant breeding
Biotechnology  and  associated  nanotechnologies  provide tools that contribute toward the achievement of develop­ment and sustainability goals. Biotechnology has been de­scribed as the manipulation of living organisms to produce goods and services useful to human beings (Eicher et al., 2006; Zepeda, 2006). In this inclusive sense, biotechnol­ogy includes traditional and local knowledge (TK) and the contributions to cropping practices, selection and breeding made by individuals and societies for millennia (Adi, 2006); it would also include the application of genomic techniques and marker-assisted breeding or selection (MAB or MAS). Modern biotechnology includes what arises from the use of in vitro modified genes. Most obvious in this category is ge-