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Sixth Extraordinary Session of the Commission
On Genetic Resources For Food And Agriculture

FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy; 25 - 30 June 2001

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Update for Monday, 25 June:
The sixth extraordinary session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) opened today at the FAO headquarters in Rome. In a brief morning Plenary, delegates heard opening statements, considered the agenda and organizational matters, and adjourned for the day to make way for regional consultations. Informal consultations of the technical groups on the list of crop genera and the use of terms took place in the evening. Above: Delegates entering the Red Room shortly before the Opening Plenary was convened.
RealAudio by ENB - click to listenCGRFA Chair Fernando Gerbasi (Venezuela) opened the session and reviewed the history of the negotiating process on the Revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IU), noting that the extraordinary session was convened to conclude negotiations of the IU for its submission to the 31st FAO Conference in November 2001. He reported that the 120th FAO Council meeting held from 18-23 June had recognized that agreement had been reached in many difficult areas, that a number of substantial issues were still under discussion, and underscored the need to reach decisions by consensus.
RealAudio by ENB - click to listenFAO Assistant Director-General Louise Fresco emphasized the short time available to conclude the negotiations and offer the agricultural sector the opportunity to shape solutions that suit it best and encourage that they conclude the IU before being pre-empted by other parallel processes. She called for creativity, flexibility, the art of listening and of clarity in formulating intentions, positions and wording.

RealAudio by ENB - click to listenChair Gerbasi reviewed progress made in the working groups addressing legal matters, the list of crops under the multilateral system (MS) and definitions, and noted the results as included in Appendices I-III (CGRFA/Ex-6/01/3). He also discussed the potential legal and institutional housing of a successfully negotiated International Undertaking.

RealAudio by ENB - click to listenOn the organization of work, Chair Gerbasi proposed that the Plenary deals with Articles 1-18 of the Chairman's simplified text (CGRFA/Ex-6/01/2) and the Committee of the Whole (COW) deals with Articles 19-32. The working groups on the list of crops and on definitions would work in evening sessions.

RealAudio by ENB - click to listenDavid Cooper of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat referenced relevant CBD COP-5 decisions, in particular decisions V/5 on agricultural biodiversity and V/26 on access and benefit-sharing, which highlight the importance of the IU in the implementation of the CBD. He also noted the CBD COP's willingness to consider a decision by the FAO Conference that the IU become a legally-binding instrument with strong links to both the FAO and the CBD.
Jose Esquinas-Alcazar, CGRFA Secretary
Taking the Chair's opening remarks to heart, a group of delegates sat down in the hallway to negotiate informally as soon as the opening Plenary was adjourned!

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