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History of the Genetic Resources Unit

The Vegetable Gene Bank (now Warwick GRU) was built at Wellesbourne following donations to an OXFAM special appeal.

Concern in the late 70s over genetic erosion in vegetable crops and its potential long-term effect on the nutritional base providing a healthy diet world-wide initiated the appeal programme.

Donors included the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR - now Bioversity International), multinational corporations and government agencies including the Agriculture and Food Research Council of Great Britain, charities, trusts and individuals.

The IBPGR designated the Vegetable Gene Bank as a base collection within the global network for a number of outbreeding vegetable crops including alliums, brassicas, carrot, radish and minor salads. The OXFAM appeal fund made annual contributions towards the running costs of the Vegetable Gene Bank for seven years up to September 1987, and these were supplemented by funds from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF).

Running costs since 1987 have been met from a Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Commission.

In 2004 an extension was built to house the Genomic Resources Seed Archive, a long-term seed store, one of the elements underpinning the Genomic Resources Centre at Wellesbourne.



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