As a basis for discussion on this agenda item, delegates referred to document CGRFA- EX2/96/2 on the first Report on the State of the Worlds Plant Genetic Resources. In introducing the document, Dr. Cary Fowler, the Project Manager of the preparatory process for the Fourth International Technical Conference, noted that the Report was based on an outline approved by the sixth session of the Commission. He explained that the Report represents a synthesis of over 5000 pages of information gathered through the country- driven preparatory process, which included 150 Country Reports and the results of 11 regional and subregional meetings. Additional information had been provided through the FAO World Information and Early Warning System, international institutes, NGOs and the private sector. The Report should be considered in conjunction with the more detailed information provided in the complementary background documents.
Although MOROCCO proposed a paragraph-by-paragraph review of the Report, most delegates limited their plenary interventions to general concerns. SENEGAL objected to the Reports use of the term marginal areas, arguing that an area is marginal only if all of its crops are marginal. CANADA detailed its concerns, including use of the terms formal and informal, on-farm management, implications that a legal instrument is required, and benefit-sharing in accordance with the CBD.
INDIA and MALAYSIA expressed concern that the Vavilovian Centres of Origin were not addressed. ITALY, on behalf of the EU, emphasized information gaps in national and regional reporting and noted that the open process employed in preparing the Report might serve as a foundation for a future monitoring system on the worlds PGR. MALAYSIA noted that the Report should highlight strengths and weaknesses within the present system and form the basis for strategies under the GPA. He noted the Reports inadequate treatment of farmers rights and legislative measures regarding access and benefit sharing. INDONESIA called for stronger treatment of national legislation and policy. FRANCE called for a more strategic approach, one which would address priority areas to justify the GPA. ECUADOR recommended that the Report include a review of native PGR as an integral part of traditional agricultural systems. KENYA emphasized the importance of subregional meetings. IRAN emphasized the transfer of technologies for the conservation of medicinal and ornamental plants.
In addition to the Reports content, delegates also discussed its status. The US noted that the Commission meeting should not be an endorsement of the Report. MEXICO, on the basis of informal consultations with Latin American and Caribbean countries, stated that the Report should be used a framework for discussion and should not be imbued with the same status as a document negotiated by governments. As such, the GPA should be emphasized and the Report simply noted in Leipzig. BRAZIL, while commending the bottom up process and integrated cooperation between countries and institutions that led to this first comprehensive report, stated that it should serve as an informative background paper. COLOMBIA noted that the document provided a good preliminary overview of the state of PGR, but should remain a reference document, especially since it may not coincide with political views.
SWEDEN noted that it was up to the Secretariat to determine what to include in its own documents, such as the Report. Nonetheless, he noted that the continuing process of updating and refining the Report should include countries and that the Leipzig Conference can provide guidance on future work of the FAO with greater emphasis on sustainable agriculture and a move away from the squirrel approach of collecting everything in gene banks. He noted his preference for a full presentation rather an executive summary of the Report in Leipzig.
Upon the request of MEXICO and SWEDEN, the Secretariats legal counsel provided the following advice: an information-based document may be adopted even if it is to be subject to periodic revisions; taking note of a document falls short of accepting it a statement of fact might be welcomed or accepted as a basis for future discussion or action.
CANADA and PAKISTAN recalled that the original mandate of this extraordinary session (as agreed at the Commissions sixth session) entrusted the Commission not the Secretariat with finalizing the Report for Leipzig. Despite these last views, a consensus emerged regarding the Reports status as a background information document that would be periodically updated and revised. In line with the status of the Report and the related decision to limit its consideration, delegates decided not to formally endorse the Report but to submit written comments and corrections to the Secretariat, which would serve as a basis for a revised text to be forwarded to Leipzig. These decisions were reflected in items 6 and 8 of the provisional agenda for Leipzig. Delegates agreed to focus their attention on the Declaration and the GPA.
In its report, the Commission adopted a section on this item (as orally amended by Canada, Colombia and Germany), which includes the following points. The Commission recognizes the Report, which represents the first world-wide assessment of the state of PGR conservation and utilization, as a useful basis for the GPA and as a comprehensive source of information, which should be periodically updated, made widely available and analyzed in further depth in order to facilitate the monitoring role of the Commission. Also, the Commission agreed that although it would not formally endorse the Report, the Secretariat should forward a revised text to Leipzig on the basis of comments and corrections submitted by governments.
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