Distribution of maize genetic resources

Contributors to this page: CIMMYT, Mexico (Suketoshi Taba, Bonnie J. Furman), with inputs also received from IITA, Nigeria (Dominique Dumet), EMBRAPA (maize and sorghum genebank), Brazil (Flavia Teixeira), USDA (ARS/NC7, ISU), USA (Mark Millard).

Policies and regulations

Policies and regulations

Common policies on distribution and access to plant materials

Once it is declared disease-free, CIMMYT seed can be carefully packed and sent to hundreds of partners worldwide (photo: CIMMYT)

The IPR (intellectual property rights) documentation for germplasm exchange should apply.

Policy exceptions

National laws and regulations

It is essential to follow the terms and conditions in the host country agreements.

International laws and regulations

Phytosanitary regulations

Phytosanitory regulations must be followed for the germplasm exchanges between the genebanks and users, and among the genebanks to assure the safe movement of the germplasm.

The following documentation is needed:

CIMMYT requires senders from countries where genetically modified maize is cultivated in the open field, both for commercial and experimental purposes, to provide the following information:

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User related issues for distribution

Feedback to users

Good customer service practices:

Customer assurance

To deliver correct seed samples to the users.

Feedback from users

Users are requested to confirm reception of the seed shipment:

Quantity of material recommended to be distributed

Genebanks preserve a large number of accessions. Therefore, seeds must be maintained in a cost effective manner and decisions must be made as to the number of seeds to be stored and distributed). Therefore, the aim is to deliver genetic resources to as many users as possible.

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Procedures for distribution

Check availability

Preparing samples for distribution

Preparing samples for distribution (photo: CIMMYT)

Preparing the information list to accompany the plant materials

It is important to send the seed with information on origin, traits and follow-up.

Dispatch of the plant material

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Recording information

Recording information during distribution

The following information must be recorded for each consignment:

System for tracking material/inventory system for distribution

Important for genebank management systems and also for annual reports.

References and further reading

GPG2, Activity 2.1.2: “Develop crop-specific guidelines to maintain germplasm free from transgenes” Workshop, August 15-17, 2007, CIMMYT. Available here.

GMO ERA Project [homepage of the International Project on GMO Environmental Risk Assessment Methodologies] [online]. Available from: Date accessed: 30 January 2010.

ISAAA in brief. [online].International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

Taba S, van Ginkel M, Hoisington D, Poland D. 2004. Wellhausen-Anderson Plant Genetic Resources Center: Operations Manual, 2004. El Batan, Mexico:CIMMYT. Available here.

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The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.