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Danish Environment Ministers and Parliamentarians Visit CIMMYT

March, 2004

Denmark’s Minister for the Environment, Hans Chr. Schmidt, and members of the Environment Committee of the Danish Parliament came to CIMMYT on 4 March for a briefing on the role of agriculture and research in development, the conservation and study of genetic diversity, the potential of biotechnology, and biosafety issues. They were accompanied by Søren Haslund, Ambassador of the Government of Denmark to Mexico. During their visit they were joined by Lisa Covantes, representative of Greenpeace-Mexico.

The briefing ended with a short tour of CIMMYT’s laboratory, greenhouse, and genebank facilities. In the laboratory, researchers described how biotechnology tools increasingly facilitate the study and use of genetic resources. As one example, they presented a “maize family tree” developed on the basis of genetic analyses that assess the extent to which maize varieties and races from throughout the world are genetically similar or quite distinct. The visitors saw transformed maize and wheat plants growing in the biosafety greenhouse. In CIMMYT’s genebank, where some of the world’s largest collections of maize, wheat, and related species are held in trust for humanity, the visitors learned how these genetic resources are used to develop new varieties. They heard about CIMMYT’s work in Mexico to understand how traditional farmers manage maize diversity on the farm, and then visited one of the cold storage vaults where seed is kept.

Denmark is a world leader in its strong and thoughtful commitment to reducing poverty in developing countries through economic growth and environmentally sustainable development. The visit of the Danish delegation provided a welcome opportunity to exchange views on the role of public agricultural research for development.

The visiting members of the Environment Committee of the Danish Parliament included Eyvind Vesselbo, Mogens Nørgård Pedersen, Torben Hansen, Jørn Dohrmann, Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen, Keld Albrechtsen, Helge Mortensen, Lone Møller, Jacob Buksti, Inger Bierbaum, Jens Vibjerg, Helga Moos, Søren Gade, Gudrun Laub, Freddie H. Madsen, and Inger Støjberg.

1) From left to right: Eyvind Vesselbo, Minister Schmidt, and Director General Iwanaga
2) Minister Schmidt and Eyvind Vesselbo in the briefing room
3) Visiting the biotech lab
4) Visiting the genebank