Parlous Times for Seed Banks Spell Trouble for Australian Agriculture

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Science  24 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5999, pp. 1591
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5999.1591-a

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Australia's seed banks are tumbling like dominoes, and the country's agricultural researchers and farmers may end up the losers. The Biloela Research Station in Queensland, home to a 60-year-old collection of seeds of legumes and livestock forage plants, is slated to shut down in the coming months. A plan is in place to rescue commercially valuable grain legumes. But the neglect of other prized accessions will make it harder for Australia to comply with a genetics resources treaty, which in turn could curtail access to overseas seed collections—a debilitating prospect for a country whose farms rely on imported species.