1. What exactly does OAPGRC do?
OAPGRC is the authority responsible for research, accounting, cataloging and advice on the development of policies related to the conservation and sustainable use of Oman's animals, plants, microbes, and marine life.
2. What are genetic resources?
Genetic resources refer to genetic material of actual or potential value. Genetic material is any material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity. Functional units of heredity are the genes passed from parents to offspring, encoding all properties of a living organism - from its shape to its functions. Briefly speaking, genes are codes of life. Genes are pieces of deoxyribonucleic acid, known as DNA. The word 'gene' came form the Greek word 'genesis' which means 'birth'. Examples of genetic resources include everything from medicinal plants and agricultural crops to animal breeds and microbes.
3. Why exactly are genetic resources important?
Genetic resources include plants, animals, marine life and microorganisms. They provide our food, clothing and medicines as well as all the oxygen we breathe in the atmosphere. Also, they determine the balance of ecosystems. The extinction, or introduction, of new species into particular biogeographic areas has a huge impact on its inhabitants, including humans.
4. What is so special about Oman's genetic resources? Do we have any genetic resources that are particularly important?
Oman is located at the intersection of several arid biogeographical areas. The particular habitat created by this has lead to some unique genetic resources. Perhaps the most famous example is the frankincense tree (Boswellia sacra). Our plants and animals are especially important because of the arid conditions they have developed under – this is very interesting to researchers and scientists as they seek to develop breeds that can cope with climate change.
5. What sort of products are developed from genetic resources?
First and foremost, all food items, medicines, cosmetics, industrial chemicals, fuels, craft and building materials, paper and many, many others!
6. Is one type of genetic resource more important than another? For example are animals more important than marine life? Why?
All genetic resources are equally important and represent necessary links in the biosphere. Scorpions in the desert are just as important as dolphins in the sea and as Arabian leopards in the mountains. All genetic resources are irreplaceable parts of life on Earth. Extinction is forever!
7. How can I get involved/ help?
Even small things make a big difference. Stop leaving litter and rubbish in the street, on the beach, in the mountains, in the wadis! That's a good start as it helps protect the habitat of our native species. Learn about Oman's valuable flora and fauna and share your knowledge with your friends and family. That will be a big help as well.
8. What are the biggest threats to genetic resources in Oman?
This is the expansion of human activity, both industrial and agricultural, and the introduction of invasive plant species. And don't forget pollution.
9. What exactly is food security?
Food security is a set of measures aimed at providing a continuous adequate level of nutrition to the species known as homo sapiens – human beings.
10. How do genetic resources help preserve our culture?
There are many iconic organisms innately linked to Omani culture. Examples are dates, frankincense and myrrh, camels, Arabian oryx. All of them require proper preservation measures so they can be around for future generations.
11. What is biopiracy?
Biopiracy is any human activity aimed at illegal profiting from the exploitation of genetic resources. For instance, poaching.
12. Is all research on marine life about protecting fish stock?
No. It deals with many things, including: the preservation of coral reefs; the study of marine invertebrate and mammals; the search for prospective medicinal compounds in marine organisms.
13. Why is OAPGRC reaching out to young people in particular?
Because young people are the future of the nation – they will be influenced directly by the success of OAPGRC projects.
14. Can we actually learn anything form traditional medicine?
Yes, traditional medicine has accumulated a massive amount of observations on the biological activity of plants. This information is used by scientists when searching for particular remedies.