The Secretariat introduced the Report on the State of the World's Plant Genetic Resources (ITCPGR/96/3), and emphasized that it constituted the first worldwide assessment of conservation and sustainable utilization of the world's PGR. He noted that the Report is designed to guide the Commission in its activities, and provide a basis for the actions outlined in the GPA. The Report was based upon information from 154 country reports, as well as 11 regional and subregional meetings. It also drew on input from the FAO World Information and Early Warning System, international institutions, NGOs, and the private sector. He summarized the country-driven, participatory and bottom-up approach utilized in the report's preparation, in addition to its main findings.
One of the Report's most important findings is that major gaps exist in activities and available information on PGR. These gaps include valuation methodologies, in situ conservation and inadequate ex situ collections. The Report notes that while PGR activities to date have concentrated on ex situ conservation and use, crops of local importance are rarely found in such collections, and very few countries can provide for sustained long-term storage of germplasm in their ex situ collections. It concludes that genetic diversity is being lost, and that, while farmers are helping to conserve diversity, there are insufficient links between farmers and plant breeders. Finally, it highlights the Report's purpose as a comprehensive background source of information, to be updated and revised on a periodic basis. Following this presentation, the US and CANADA called on the FAO to clearly reflect the Report's status as an FAO background document, rather than as a negotiated text, in its title and preface.