The Plant Treaty - Crop Genetic Diversity and Food Security

In Steinar Andresen, Elin Lerum Boasson and Geir H√łnneland (eds), International Environmental Agreements: An Introduction. London/New York, Routledge, 2012, pp. 134-150.

This chapter presents the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. It starts with pinpointing the problems that the Treaty was set out to solve, in particular genetic erosion and regulations reducing access to, and sustainable use of, crop genetic resources. It then proceeds to the story of the Treaty negotiation. The Treaty builds on a previous International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources and has been further developed according to a resultion adopted together with the text of the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992. Also interaction with other international agreements played a role. The contents of the Treaty are elaborated in the chapter, with emphasis on its provisions on conservation, sustainable use, farmers' rights, and access and benefit sharing. Finally, its implementation and impact are assessed. Despite serious financial constraints, substantial progress has been made, in particular with ex situ conservation and the facilitation of access to genetic resources. Also, some progress can be noted with regard to benefit sharing and farmers' rights. Little progress has been achieved for in situ conservation and sustainable use of crop genetic resources. The chapter concludes that the Treaty has everything needed to reverse the negative trends regarding crop genetic resources, if it were implemented according to the intentions. Whether the international community will make use of this unique opportunity depends on political will.

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