BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development has backed a report that is broadly favorable to the promotion of conservation, collection and utilization of genetic resources in agriculture. The report, prepared by German Green Euro-MP Friedrich-Wilhelm Graefe zu Baringdorf, was adopted by the committee by unanimous vote.

Technically, the report concerns new measures for implementing a 1994 EU regulation and proposes a standing inventory of genetic resources, shared-interest projects funded jointly by the European Union (EU) and the member states, as well as coordination of measures adopted at different levels.

Other points made in the report include a proposal for increased financial and human resources to back up the regulation, and some criticisms of the European Commission for not doing enough to promote exchanges between gene banks and to improve the quality of the resource inventory. The committee also proposes extending the program to the Eastern European countries that are now bidding to join the EU, and setting up an independent forum of all interested parties to monitor genetic resources in agriculture. - Peter O'Donnell