On Agricultural Biodiversity and the International Seed Treaty
We welcome the long-awaited conclusion of negotiations of
International Seed Treaty. The security of these crops and
now one step closer. They are important not only to produce
the food we eat
but also form part of the world's agricultural biodiversity
agricultural landscapes. Plant Genetic Resources for Food
Agriculture sustain the lives and livelihoods and ecosystems
of the majority of the
world's population especially marginalised communities.
Thus the Treaty stands at the crossroads of Agriculture,
Environment. We join with others in applauding the hard work
Commission, especially the Secretariat and Chair Gerbasi,
this historic agreement.
Our support is qualified, however.
Civil Society organisations, many of whom cannot be with
us today, have
worked for more than 20 years to get to this point, but it
is only a
first step in securing all genetic resources for food and
ensuring their sustainable use, conservation and continued
open access by
farmers, herders and fisherfolk, free of intellectual property
restrictions. As with the Biosafety Protocol we eagerly anticipate
of the Treaty by 40 countries so that it can come into force.
urge the COP to put continued pressure on the Treaty's Governing
address the outstanding issues on intellectual property rights,
with the WTO especially TRIPs, material transfer agreements,
strengthening the international implementation of Farmers'
The Treaty recognises Farmers' Rights to save, exchange and
but subordinates these to National Laws some of which are
through recognition of patents and other IPRs on plant genetic
laws, such as the African Union Model Law on Community Rights
subordinate Farmers' Rights but recognises them as inalienable.
Taking our inspiration from the preambular comment in your
"...that it is vital to anticipate, prevent and attack
the causes of
significant reduction or loss of biological diversity at source"
Agricultural biodiversity is in such a perilous state. Losses
than 90% of crop varieties from farmers' fields in the past
accelerating as the globalisation of trade, consumer cultures
patenting bites deeper.
Civil Society joins with others to calls on the COP to underscore
importance of this Treaty, perhaps by making it the basis
separately identifiable Decision.
Throughout these negotiations we have taken a consistent position
opposition to Intellectual Property Rights on genetic resources,
will continue to do so in defence of farmers and farming communities.
We would urge countries to make especial efforts to sign
before the World Food Summit: five years later in June this
year and to ratify
it by mid 2003. The issues this Treaty deals with are fundamental
sovereignty, food security and the environment, but discussions
continue in the political space created in the Governing Body
that these resources are secured in the public domain in perpetuity.
CBD / COP 6 Den Haag, 10 April 2002