Session 1: The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

In Session 1, we examine a regulatory regime that emphasizes the importance of sharing and using plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), i.e., the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing of the FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (hereinafter ‘the Treaty’).

While fully consistent with the principles underlined in the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD)—national sovereignty, mutually agreed terms and prior informed consent—the Treaty creates a system that minimizes the transaction costs and administrative difficulties of exchanging PGRFA, while simultaneously creating a mechanism for benefit sharing. PGRFA are different from other genetic resources and call for a different system of access and benefit sharing for the crops and forages that are most important to food security and on which countries are most interdependent.

The Treaty is a dynamic instrument and many important decisions regarding its implementation need to be taken by the governing body. This session attempts to explain the rationale for the Treaty and its relationship with the CBD and illustrates this relationship with practical examples.