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Knowledge Data and Resources

The problems that we are currently facing in feeding a growing population, mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing our reliance of fossil fuels do not obey national boundaries and cannot be tackled by a single nation alone. Instead, solving these problems will require that we all work together to design sustainable solutions that take account of current scientific discoveries, socio-economic drivers and political pressures. Ensuring that all individuals, scientists, policy makers and farmers are able to make decisions based on the most up to date evidence and information will require the establishment of appropriate digital and physical infrastructures to promote the exchange of knowledge, ideas, data resources and best practice in person and online.

For example the ever-increasing amount of data that is being generated by scientific research needs to be accessible to as many users as possible to effectively harness the benefits of research. This will facilitate automated data mining and cross-consultation while reducing duplications in the research process. Projects are underway already across the globe to promote the storage, access and analysis of data in the biological sciences including the iPlant Collaborative, DOE Knowledgebase and ELIXIR. This increased access to data is also being accompanied by a drive to promote open access; the unrestricted online access and free distribution of the output of publicly funded scholarly research (Van Noorden 2012 and 2013)

The concept of open access is not just limited to academic outputs but also impacts on physical resources such as plant germplasm collections, which will be at the centre of providing the genes and diversity that will be needed to develop plants that are more resilient and adapted to a changing climate. Although the impact of climate change will vary from region to region it is clear that the majority of the world’s plants will experience a climate that they have not been exposed to before. Exchange of germplasm amongst countries will therefore be required if we are to develop new plants and crops that provide the basis for future food security.

To assist in this area the Global Plant Council is working with a number of partners including GODAN and RDA and is working to promote data accessibility, exchange and reuse in all of its current initiatives.

References

International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources

Van Noorden (2013)
US Science to be open to all
Nature 494, 414

Van Noorden (2012)
Britain aims for broad open access
Nature 486, 302