Genetic material

Genetic resources are important for continuum of genes and species. The current effective production aims in agriculture and forestry have led to loss of diversity in productive species with the expense of genetic diversity. Therefore a national plant genetic resource program was started in 2003 to preserve genetic resources of agricultural and forestry plants. Finnish Forest Research Institute is in charge of forest related genetic material and MTT Agrifood Research Finland of agricultural and horticultural genetic material. Genetic resources of farm animals are promoted by a national program by MTT Agrifood Research Finland and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MMM) since 2004.

Native breeds are species with special characteristics, that have sustained with quality, endurance against diseases and pests, species that use nutrients effectively and that have adapted to climate conditions. The goal is to preserve the material to stop the loss of genetic diversity. The native breed has to be registered native breed with distinguished phenology compared to other varieties or it can be old commerce variety.

Cultivation and rearing of genetically important native breeds, is supported with subsidies. There are 41 gene reserve forests (6537 ha in 2013) in Finland growing with variety of original tree species, however dominated with the most common species in Finnish forests; Scots pine, European spruce and birches. It is required that local and original seeds are used and growth sustained in their original sites. The cultivation of agricultural plants, the native breeds of pulse, grains and herbaceous plants, are encouraged to be cultivated in sites where same cultivation has taken place for several decades.  

Threatened native breed animals include western Finncattle and Finnhorse.  eastern and northern Finncattle, the Kainuu grey sheep, Åland’s sheep, native chickends, Finnish hound, Finnish spitz, Karelian spitz, Lappish reindeer dog and Nordic dark bee. Two types of native pigs are already extinct.

The value of preserving genetic material has biological value for science and culture heritage but it is also economically beneficial.

International biodiversity program CBD, Convention on Biological Diversity obligates Finland to participate protecting the national genetic resources and use them sustainably. FAO regulates the agricultural plant gene storages worldwide and they promote utmost the food safety.  

 

Genetic resources – Securing biodiversity. MTT Agrifood Research Finland. Finnish Forest Research Institute. The National Board for Genetic Resources.

 

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