Sveriges Konsumenter i Samverkan 
Kampanj: Biologisk mångfald

On Agricultural Biodiversity and the International Seed Treaty (ITPGRFA)

We welcome the long-awaited conclusion of negotiations of this
International Seed Treaty. The security of these crops and forages is
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 and sustain
agricultural landscapes. Plant Genetic Resources for Food and
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, Trade and
Environment. We join with others in applauding the hard work the FAO
Commission, especially the Secretariat and Chair Gerbasi, in achieving
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 agriculture -
ensuring their sustainable use, conservation and continued open access by
farmers, herders and fisherfolk, free of intellectual property rights
restrictions. As with the Biosafety Protocol we eagerly anticipate rapid ratification
of the Treaty by 40 countries so that it can come into force. However, we
urge the COP to put continued pressure on the Treaty's Governing Body to
address the outstanding issues on intellectual property rights, relationship
with the WTO especially TRIPs, material transfer agreements, financing, and
strengthening the international implementation of Farmers' Rights.

The Treaty recognises Farmers' Rights to save, exchange and sell seeds
but subordinates these to National Laws some of which are restrictive
through recognition of patents and other IPRs on plant genetic resources. Other
laws, such as the African Union Model Law on Community Rights does not
subordinate Farmers' Rights but recognises them as inalienable.
Taking our inspiration from the preambular comment in your Convention:

"...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 of more
than 90% of crop varieties from farmers' fields in the past century are
accelerating as the globalisation of trade, consumer cultures and
patenting bites deeper.

Civil Society joins with others to calls on the COP to underscore the
importance of this Treaty, perhaps by making it the basis of a
separately identifiable Decision.
Throughout these negotiations we have taken a consistent position in
opposition to Intellectual Property Rights on genetic resources, and
will continue to do so in defence of farmers and farming communities.

We would urge countries to make especial efforts to sign the Treaty
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 to food
sovereignty, food security and the environment, but discussions need to
continue in the political space created in the Governing Body to ensure
that these resources are secured in the public domain in perpetuity.

CBD / COP 6 Den Haag, 10 April 2002