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Side Event on Farmers' Rights at the 3rd Session of the Governing Body of the Plant Treaty

International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA)(04.06.2009) Seed regulations around the world are increasingly posing barriers to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. This was one of the main conclusions of a side event on Farmers' Rights held on 2 June.

The side event, 'Farmers' Rights: Challenges, Success Stories and Ways Forward' was organized by the Farmers' Rights Project of the FNI in collaboration with German GTZ/BMZ and the Development Fund, Norway. The event was organized in Tunisia, during the 3rd Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).

After Teshome Hunduma Mulesa of the Development Fund welcomed the around 80 participants, Regine Andersen, Senior Research Fellow and Director of FNI's Farmers' Rights Project held an introduction where she outlined the contents of Farmers' Rights. She highlighted challenges as well as success stories and derived recommendations regarding possible steps for the Governing Body of the Plant Treaty.

 G. UlutuncokThe introduction of regulations on variety release and seed marketing has reduced farmers' rights to exchange and sell seed among themselves and reduced the number of varieties available for farmers from official variety lists. Genetically diverse plant varieties are often not accepted. This situation represents a threat to the further maintenance of crop genetic diversity and thus for food security. There is an urgent need to address this challenge at the international as well as national levels.

Bert Visser, Director of the Centre of Genetic Resources, the Netherlands, gave a brief presentation of the results of an international e-mail conference on options for Farmers' Rights. This work resulted in four proposals, among them a request to the Secretary and FAO to study the options for provisions in the national seed legislation of Contracting Parties with a view to provide recommendations that would allow the farmer varieties in the seed market. Representatives from farmer organizations, other NGOs, as well as the seed sector and UPOV offered their views on Farmers' Rights in the ensuing discussion.

Further information:
   Programme for the side event
   FNI's Farmers' Rights Project
   Farmers' Rights Website
   Contact person: Regine Andersen
 The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) is an independent foundation engaged in research on international environmental, energy, and resource management politics.
The Institute maintains a multi-disciplinary approach, with main emphasis on political science, economics, and international law.

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