The Fourth International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources (ITCPGR-4) met in Leipzig, Germany, from 17-23 June 1996. During the Conference, participants reached agreement on an international programme for the conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA). Representatives of 148 States adopted the Leipzig Declaration - a 12-point political statement - and a delicately balanced Global Plan of Action (GPA) - the Conference's main substantive output.
Contentious issues, including financing and implementation of the GPA, technology transfer, Farmers' Rights, and access and benefit-sharing, were the subject of protracted and often closed consultations. Their resolution, adopted as a package in the closing Plenary, represented a careful compromise of strongly held positions on issues that pose both old and new challenges to the international community. While the debate over financing and technology transfer is long-standing, the operationalization of Farmers' Rights, and access and benefit-sharing arrangements pose new challenges in an evolving international environment. ITCPGR-4 confirmed that even the most technical issues must be addressed within the context of cross-cutting international regimes, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the GATT.