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REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP

The Report of the Eleventh Session of the Working Group of the CGRFA (CGRFA-EX- 3/96/3) was presented by its Chair, Mr. R. S. Paroda (India). Paroda noted that the Report included appendices containing written submissions by Brazil, France and the US. IPGRI and Canada had also made available information papers (CGRFA-EX3/96/LIM/2 and LIM/3, respectively).

Regarding scope (IU Article 3), the report noted that: there was general agreement that the IU should apply to PGRFA, with specific reference to food security; the scope of any mechanism for access and benefit-sharing might be narrower than the scope of the overall IU; consideration of the possible inclusion of forest genetic resources should be postponed, until the conclusion of discussions in other fora; the scope of any agreement on access and benefit-sharing would involve resolving a number of issues, such as determining whether the same arrangements should be made for various classes of genetic resources or only apply to specific ones.

Several options were considered with respect to access (IU Article 11), and related benefit-sharing, which might be provided on a multilateral basis, a bilateral basis or on a mixed basis. For instance, one option provided for the Commission to establish a mechanism for access to genetic resources in accordance with national legislation and benefit-sharing. Another option was to bring an indicative list of genetic resources that contribute to food security, while allowing countries to include or exclude material according to agreed criteria. There was general agreement that should a list be developed, provisions should be made for countries to voluntarily designate additional materials under the agreement. The report noted that the expansion of intellectual property rights (IPR) had both advantages and disadvantages with respect to access and benefit-sharing.

In considering the issue of Farmers’ Rights (FR) (IU Article 12), the report noted that: according to the present IU, the concept of FR was based on recognition of the past, present and future contribution of farmers in conserving, improving and making available PGRFA; a broader concept of FR appeared to be emerging, which may lead to an overall legal definition; and some elements of this definition would be more appropriately developed at the national level, and some countries are developing national mechanisms to promote FR.

A number of countries commented on the report presented by the Chair. BRAZIL noted that no general agreement was reached on either the scope of the IU or on access. On behalf of the African Group, ETHIOPIA, supported by ZIMBABWE and EGYPT, stated that FR should not be regarded as a concept; it is a reality which is being implemented in a number of countries. The US, supported by IRELAND, on behalf of the EU, stated that, as this was a Chair’s report, it was not to be edited and that comments by delegates could be reflected in the Commission’s report. In response, INDIA noted that contentious issues, such as the “concept” of FR, may need consideration by the Commission.

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