One of the major challenges facing us today is to identify, preserve, maintain, and utilise both genetic resources and local knowledge for farming. The constraints to meet this challenge are not only technical but also of policy nature. This is one conclusion from a workshop on "Biodiversity and Sustainable Agriculture", arranged by The Swedish Scientific Council on Biological Diversity at Ekenaes reseach farm on organic agriculture in Sweden 13-17 August.

The aim of the workshop was to give an input to the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advise (SBSTTA) of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which will meet in Montreal the first week in September. SBSTTA gives advise to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention.

Scientists from many parts of the world contributed with their knowledge to the conclusions and recommendations of the workshop. Some of these are:

- Cultural and biological diversity, including genetic resources, are a crucial prerequisite for sustainable agriculture. Knowledge about agroecosystems, and local knowledge and capacity to manage and use diversity in agroecosystems, are complimentary aspects of conservation, and essential for the maintenance of long term productive capacity.

- There is no problem with food production for the world s growing populations in the short and medium-term perspective, but some of our highly productive arable lands may be used in an unsustainable manner. Examples from Russia show that production in intensively farmed areas have decreased drastically during recent years.

- Farmers and scientists can and should learn and discover ways to understand and manage farms as agroecosystems. Formal and non-formal education must be the basis for minimising the use of pesticides, and optimising the use of mineral fertilizers and other agricultural interventions in farming. Experience shows that if information on alternatives to pesticides etc are as easily available to farmers, different practices develop.

- Current and potential knowledge about local agroecosystems needs not only be documented for use on a larger scale, but conserved or maintained as a living management process in communities.

- In the light of this new thinking about biodiversity and sustainable agriculture, existing national, local, and international policies should be revised frequently. For information please contact: Linda Hedlund, principal adminstrative officer, tel +46 8 698 13 68 e-mail:

Press service:

Anna Bonta-Anger, tel +46 8 698 1084,
Katrin Hallman, tel: +46 8 698 15 44,
e-mail: Katrin

  Arne Sjoeqvist
  Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
  S-106 48  STOCKHOLM    Tel:+46 8 6981273    Fax: +46 8 6981400

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