Governing Seed for Food Production

Governing Seed for Food Production

Since 2011 I have been working on various aspects of the The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which is an international treaty with its Secretariat at the FAO in Rome. Managing and coordinating research projects, analysing financial flow data and funding strategies, and conducting interviews with stakeholders and other parties relevant to the treaty and its Benefit-sharing Fund – in addition to the rest of my work on international regulatory regimes and access and benefit-sharing – I am quite familiar with the workings and on-going revisions of the Plant Treaty, as it is commonly known.

For those reasons I was recently commissioned by the South Centre to write a research paper that helps explain to its member states the historical background of the Treaty, how it works and what its spirit and letter is all about. Titled ‘Governing Seed for Food Production: The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture‘ [Research Paper 139, October 2021 as PDF], in it I begin developing a narrative framing of the spirit of the Treaty as a global commons for plant genetic resources. I am now revising this paper for a journal article that expands and elaborates the argument that a focus on theft and protection against the Global North and corporate interests are not elements that are conducive to giving shape to the global commons that is possible within the spirit and original intentions of the Plant Treaty, as I have outlined here:

Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) are part of the foundation of agriculture and of central importance to food sovereignty. These gain an increasingly pivotal role in the context of climate crises, which are threatening predictable crop production, and the erosion of agricultural biodiversity. The main instrument for the governance of PGRFA is the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Strengthening the Treaty is crucial. The Treaty establishes a binding international framework for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their use. Since 2013, negotiations have been underway to enhance the functioning of the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing. Current informal consultations may pave the way for constructive negotiations at the next Governing Body meeting in May 2022.

Los recursos fitogenéticos para la alimentación y la agricultura (RFAA) forman parte de la base de la agricultura y tienen una importancia fundamental para la soberanía alimentaria. Estos adquieren un papel cada vez más fundamental en el contexto de las crisis climáticas, que amenazan la producción de cultivos previsibles, y la erosión de la biodiversidad agrícola. El principal instrumento para la gobernanza de los RFAA es el Tratado Internacional sobre los Recursos Fitogenéticos para la Alimentación y la Agricultura. El fortalecimiento del Tratado es crucial. El Tratado establece un marco internacional vinculante para la conservación y la utilización sostenible de los recursos fitogenéticos para la alimentación y la agricultura, y el reparto justo y equitativo de los beneficios derivados de su uso. Desde 2013, se están llevando a cabo negociaciones para mejorar el funcionamiento del Sistema Multilateral de Acceso y Distribución de Beneficios. Las consultas informales en curso pueden allanar el camino para unas negociaciones constructivas en la próxima reunión del Órgano Rector, en mayo de 2022.

Les ressources phytogénétiques pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture (RPGAA) font partie du fondement de l’agriculture et revêtent une importance capitale pour la souveraineté alimentaire. Elles acquièrent un rôle de plus en plus central dans le contexte des crises climatiques, qui menacent la production de récoltes prévisibles, et l’érosion de la biodiversité agricole. Le principal instrument de la gouvernance des RPGAA est le Traité international sur les ressources phytogénétiques pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture. Il est essentiel de renforcer ce traité. Le Traité établit un cadre international contraignant pour la conservation et l’utilisation durable des ressources phytogénétiques pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture, et le partage juste et équitable des avantages découlant de leur utilisation. Depuis 2013, des négociations sont en cours pour améliorer le fonctionnement du système multilatéral d’accès et de partage des avantages. Les consultations informelles qui sont en cours pourraient ouvrir la voie à des négociations constructives lors de la prochaine réunion de l’Organe directeur en mai 2022.