FAO - THE INTERNATIONAL TREATY ON PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTU
www.czu.cz/vyzkum/publikace/ Manfred G.Raupp; www.raupp.info
FAO - Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture:
Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture are crucial in feeding
the world's population. They are the raw material that farmers and plant
breeders use to improve the quality and productivity of our crops. The
future of agriculture depends on international cooperation and on the open
exchange of the crops and their genes that farmers all over the world have
developed and exchanged over 10,000 years. No country is sufficient in
itself. All depend on crops and the genetic diversity within these crops
from other countries and regions.
After seven years of negotiations, the FAO Conference (through Resolution
3/2001) adopted the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for
Food and Agriculture, in November 2001. This legally-binding Treaty covers
all plant genetic resources relevant for food and agriculture. It is in
harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The Treaty is vital in ensuring the continued availability of the plant
genetic resources that countries will need to feed their people. We must
conserve for future generations the genetic diversity that is essential
for food and agriculture.
What are "plant genetic resources for food and agriculture"?
The Treaty defines them as "any genetic material of plant origin of actual
or potential value for food and agriculture".
What are the Treaty's objectives?
Its objectives are the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic
resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of
benefits derived from their use, in harmony with the Convention on
Biological Diversity, for sustainable agriculture and food security.
What is the Multilateral System for Access and Benefit-Sharing?
Through the Treaty, countries agree to establish an efficient, effective
and transparent Multilateral System to facilitate access to plant genetic
resources for food and agriculture, and to share the benefits in a fair
and equitable way. The Multilateral System applies to over 64 major crops
and forages. The Governing Body of the Treaty, which will be composed of
the countries that have ratified it, will set out the conditions for
access and benefit-sharing in a "Material Transfer Agreement".
What are the conditions for access in the Multilateral System?
Resources may be obtained from the Multilateral System for utilization and
conservation in research, breeding and training. When a commercial product
is developed using these resources, the Treaty provides for payment of an
equitable share of the resulting monetary benefits, if this product may
not be used without restriction by others for further research and
breeding. If others may use it, payment is voluntary.
How will benefits be shared?
The Treaty provides for sharing the benefits of using plant genetic
resources for food and agriculture through information-exchange, access to
and the transfer of technology, and capacity-building. It also foresees a
funding strategy to mobilize funds for activities, plans and programmes
the help, above all, small farmers in developing countries. This funding
strategy also includes the share of the monetary benefits paid under the
How does the Treaty protect Farmers' Rights?
The Treaty recognizes the enormous contribution that farmers and their
communities have made and continue to make to the conservation and
development of plant genetic resources. This is the basis for Farmers'
Rights, which include the protection of traditional knowledge, and the
right to participate equitably in benefit-sharing and in national
decision-making about plant genetic resources. It gives governments the
responsibility for implementing these rights.
Who benefits from the Treaty and how?
All benefit, in many ways:
Farmers and their communities, through Farmers' Rights;
Consumers, because of a greater variety of foods, and of agriculture
products, as well as increased food security;
The scientific community, through access to the plant genetic resources
crucial for research and plant breeding;
International Agricultural Research Centres, whose collections the
puts on a safe and long-term legal footing;
Both the public and private sectors, which are assured access to a wide
range of genetic diversity for agricultural development; and
The environment, and future generations, because the Treaty will help
conserve the genetic diversity necessary to face unpredictable
environmental changes, and future human needs.
When will the Treaty come into force?
The Treaty will come into force ninety days after forty governments have
ratified it. Governments that have ratified it will make up its Governing
Body. At its first meeting, this Governing Body will address important
questions, such as the level, form and manner of monetary payments on
commercialization, a standard Material Transfer Agreement for plant
genetic resources, mechanisms to promote compliance with the Treaty, and
the funding strategy. Countries may therefore consider it important to be
among the first to ratify, so as to ensure that their national interests
can be taken into account at the Governing Body's first meeting.
Each country that ratifies will then develop the legislation and
regulations it needs to implement the Treaty.