Bioversity International

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Bioversity International (BI) is an initiative of the research institute, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). According to the Bioversity International website, it was established in 1974

in response to growing alarm over the rapid loss of crop biodiversity and the threat this posed to agricultural growth and food security. IBPGR's mission was to coordinate an international plant genetic resources programme. This included organizing collecting missions as well as building and expanding genebanks at national, regional and international levels.[1]


According to the Bioversity International website:

Bioversity International was originally called the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) acted as the IBPGR secretariat. In 1991, IBPGR became the International Plant Genetic Research Institute (IPGRI), an independently managed and resourced international organization with its own headquarters in Rome. Originally, five countries signed IPGRI's establishment agreement. Since then a further 43 countries have also signed. The Organization also has signed a Headquarters agreement with Italy.[2]

Regarding the organization's aims, the Bioversity International website states:

The focus of the organization had expanded from the emergency conservation of crop genetic resources in genebanks to include promoting research on how to conserve crop biodiversity through the sustainable use of genetic resources and harness genetic diversity to reach development goals. The conservation and use of forest genetic resources also became a part of the programme of work.[3]

Only GM can save the banana?

A clue to the type of genetic diversity that Bioversity International champions is provided by the activities of its director general, Emile Frison. Frison is frequently quoted as the major source for media reports claiming that the banana is going extinct and that only GM (genetic modification) can save it (see Emile Frison for examples and sources).




Bioversity International's emphasis on government sources of funding may lead some to believe that it is mostly publicly funded. However, among the list of Top 20 donors in BI's Annual Report 2008 is the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which includes among its funders the big corporate players in genetic modification (GM), DuPont and Syngenta. Among the foundations and public bodies in the Top 20 donors to Bioversity International are well known proponents of GM, including the World Bank and USAID.[5]





  1. "Who we are", Bioversity International website, accessed 27 June 2009
  2. "Who we are", Bioversity International website, accessed 27 June 2009
  3. "Who we are", Bioversity International website, accessed 27 June 2009
  4. "Interview with Emile Frison in London", Bioversity International website, accessed 27 June 2009
  5. Bioversity International Annual Report 2008, p. 27, accessed 27 June 2009