IPGRI Regional Office for CWANA, PO Box 5466, Aleppo, Syria

Background and objectives
Significant progress has been made in conserving the genetic resources of the major crop plants. Efforts concentrate now on systematic evaluation and characterization, on ensuring that the germplasm is available for users, and on safety duplication, as well as on the conservation of minor crops and trees. The International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) encourages and supports activities to strengthen the conservation and use of plant genetic resources worldwide, with special emphasis on the needs of developing countries. As the importance of germplasm health in all aspects of germplasm management has been recognized, IPGRI has incorporated activities in this area in its project set [1].

Results and conclusions
Plant pests and pathogens may interfere directly or indirectly with each step of germplasm management. The main negative effects are the devastation of collections by eliminating susceptible genotypes, and the risk of spreading pests and pathogens to new areas. Quarantine authorities may therefore restrict the movement of germplasm which may result in limitations to the use of germplasm. Resistance to major pests and pathogens may be found in the germplasm collections, however, many accessions have not yet been properly evaluated. IPGRI's objective is to assist the plant genetic resources community in all matters related to the safe movement of germplasm and phytosanitary aspects of germplasm conservation. This is acheived by providing information, e.g. by publishing, jointly with FAO, Technical Guidelines for the Safe Movement of Germplasm; by developing research projects in the field of germplasm health, including disease indexing and therapy; and by providing training to university students and staff of institutions active in the conservation of plant genetic resources [2].

1. IPGRI, 1993. Diversity for Development. IPGRI, Rome.
2. Frison EA, Diekmann M, 1998. In Hadidi A, Khetarpal R, Koganezawa H, eds, Plant Virus Disease Control . APS Press, St. Paul, USA.