XX | Hero | VI24 | Biodiversity

Stories - 07-12-2021

Biodiversity is necessary to help tackle future challenges

The issue of protecting biodiversity is high on the agenda for politicians and policymakers alike, both in the Netherlands and around the world. Jair Haanstra, Breeding Manager Lettuce, is involved in this within Rijk Zwaan.

Biodiversity under pressure

Biodiversity is declining rapidly. “Human impact is still spreading, the climate is changing, deforestation continues, there is a sustained rise in large-scale farming – biodiversity is under pressure from all these factors. That’s not only a problem today, but above all in the longer term too. We need biodiversity to help us tackle future challenges.”

Future solutions

“In wild material there are genes that can help us find solutions to deal with new pathogens, and to problems such as silting and drought. We don’t know which genetic source contains which solution, which is why we’re building gene banks – i.e. huge collections of vegetable seeds. A seed sample that seems worthless today might be very important in 20 years’ time.”

Collecting material for now and later

Rijk Zwaan organises and finances missions to identify and collect new genetic material. “We collect, document and multiply the material, working together with governments as much as possible. At the same time, we show how the material can be preserved, so all sides benefit.”

Open access

“At Rijk Zwaan we consider it important that material in gene banks is accessible for everyone, which is why we collaborate with governments. To facilitate access to patented material, we are one of the initiators of the International Licensing Platform Vegetable. The members of that platform give one another access to patented material, in exchange for a reasonable fee. After all, biodiversity benefits everyone and we need to ensure it stays that way.”

Just like Jair, at Rijk Zwaan we believe it is important to maintain biodiversity, which is why we organise missions to gather and safeguard genetic material and we work closely with gene banks across the globe. That’s how we’re sharing a healthy future with future generations.