This project is an interdisciplinary research project covering expertise in law, breeding and molecular biology, and involves researchers from seven countries. The project is headed by the Centre for Genetic Resources (CGN), Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands.

The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture has recognized the need to create a strong global foundation to underpin decision-making regarding animal genetic resources. To accomplish this, the Commission, during its Eighth Regular Session in 1999, agreed that FAO should coordinate the development of a country-driven first Report on the State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources, to be finalized in 2006. During its 10th Regular Session in 2004, the Commission approved the completion of the process of the development of the Report on the State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources at a first international technical conference on animal genetic resources, which could provide a framework for advancing the conservation and sustainable use of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture.

On this background FAO has given priority to a number of questions regarding the exchange of animal genetic resources that raises questions about access and benefit sharing (ABS):

1) How to ensure that animal genetic resources are accessible to livestock keepers and to breeders who may use animal genetic resources to improve existing/local breeds or to develop new breeds?

2) How to ensure that any ABS regulations support and do not impede either the development of new and beneficial breeds or access to such improvements by livestock keepers (particularly livestock keepers in the developing world)?

3) The study outlined in this project contributes to evidence-based decision-making about the effectiveness and fairness of current animal genetic resource exchange and the need for any additional international architecture governing this exchange. It provides information and analysis with which all participants of the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources can assess the options for future international governance of animal genetic resources. The study also reduces the possibility that discussions over regulatory frameworks for animal genetic resources are characterised by the sorts of costly, time-consuming and divisive debate that engulfed the development of an international treaty on plant genetic resources.

Project period: 2004-2006

  • UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)