Innovative approaches in participatory research, on-farm conservation and the management of agricultural biodiversity in Europe
European agriculture faces some serious challenges from climate change, environmental degradation and rural social decline. In this context, maintaining the diversity of the natural resource base and the multi-functionality of agriculture keeps options open for adapting successfully to changing conditions. This report explores how this can be achieved in the European Union (EU). It draws on experiences from the Farm Seed Opportunities project (FSO), a partnership which includes public-sector research institutes, peasant networks and organic farmers’ associations from six European countries. The FSO seeks to develop innovative participatory approaches for managing agricultural biodiversity in Europe, and to identify appropriate regulatory frameworks for the on-farm conservation and sustainable use of seed diversity. The FSO highlights the need for a fundamental re-orientation of plant breeding so that it can build on both local and scientific knowledge in creating and maintaining a diversity of seed.