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Bellagio Declaration

Group of Reproductive Development and Apomixis

Bellagio Declaration

Group of Reproductive Development and Apomixis


of the participants in the conference on

"Designing a Research Strategy for Achieving Asexual Seed Production

in Cereals"

held at the Rockefeller Foundation´s Bellagio Conference and Study Center (Italy),

April 27th - May 1st, 1998

("Bellagio Apomixis Declaration")

Recent advances in plant biology research suggest that it may soon be possible to develop varieties of crop plants that can produce seeds without a need for sexual fertilization, a process known as apomixis. Apomixis is a natural, asexual method of plant reproduction resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the mother plant. Apomixis promises to revolutionize plant breeding by providing a system for crop improvement that allows any desired variety, including hybrids, to breed true. This ability will make both breeding and seed production more efficient. It offers the opportunity for plant breeders to more readily develop varieties that are specifically adapted to local conditions, using, and thus conserving, greater genetic diversity. Apomixis will also allow resource-poor farmers to replant the seed they produce from locally bred varieties year after year, a strategy not possible with today´s commercial hybrid varieties.

We are deeply concerned, however, that the current trend towards consolidation of plant biotechnology ownership in a few hands may severely restrict access to affordable apomixis technology. We firmly believe that apomixis technology must also benefit those who need it most, particularly resource-poor farmers. We recognize that world agriculture is rapidly changing due to the advent of global markets for agricultural products. A consequence is that agricultural products of the developing world cannot be sold in global markets if they infringe on technologies patented in the developed world. This barrier promotes separation of domestic and export markets, increasing costs and reducing competitiveness in a global economy. It is vital to the economic and social well-being of agricultural communities worldwide that they have ´freedom to operate´ in biotechnology in order to have fair access to the global marketplace.

Therefore, we urge widespread adoption of the principle of broad and equitable access to plant biotechnologies, especially apomixis technology, and we encourage the development of novel approaches for technology generation, patenting, and licensing that can achieve this goal.

(The opinions expressed are those of the undersigned only, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the institutions with which they are affiliated.)



Richard A. Jefferson, CAMBIA, Australia

Ueli Grossniklaus, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA

Michiel M. van Lookeren Campagne, CPRO-DLO, The Netherlands


Helmut Bäumlein, IPK, Germany

Ross Bicknell, Crop and Food Research, New Zealand

John G. Carman, Utah State University, USA

Abed M. Chaudhury, Canberra, Australia

David Haig, Harvard University, USA

Steve Hughes, Exeter University, UK

Rich Jorgensen, University of Arizona, USA

Andrzej Kilian, CAMBIA, Australia

Akio Kojima, NIVOT, Japan

Anna Koltunow, Adelaide, Australia

John W. Miles, CIAT, Colombia

Gian Nogler, University of Zürich, Switzerland

Peggy Ozias-Akins, University of Georgia, USA

André Picard, Université Paris 6, France

Robert E. Pruitt, Harvard University, USA

Yves H. Savidan, ORSTOM & CIMMYT, Mexico

Jean-Philippe Vielle-Calzada, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA

Sacco de Vries, Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands

Masayuki Yamamoto, University of Tokyo, Japan


Inna N. Golubovskaya, N.I. Vavilov Institute, Russia

Ralph Quatrano, Washinton University, USA

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