Earth Negotiations Bulletin

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 A Reporting Service for Environment and Development Negotiations

 

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Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd)

 

Vol. 9 No. 295
Monday, 15 November 2004
 

SUMMARY OF THE TENTH REGULAR SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON GENETIC RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE:

8-12 NOVEMBER 2004

The tenth regular session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA-10) was held from 8-12 November 2004, at the headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in Rome, Italy. The meeting marked the twentieth anniversary of the CGRFA and the entry into force of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR). It was attended by approximately 250 participants, representing 88 countries, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, and international agricultural research centers (IARCs).

CGRFA-10 considered agenda items relating to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), animal genetic resources (AnGR), and general issues, including: the reports and future work of the intergovernmental technical working groups on PGRFA (ITWG-PGR) and AnGR (ITWG-AnGR); cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the draft code of conduct on biotechnology; and the future work of the Commission. Delegates also discussed FAO’s policies, programmes and activities on agricultural biodiversity, heard reports from relevant international organizations and held a dialogue session with civil society.

The twentieth anniversary of the Commission and the coming into force of the ITPGR set the stage for CGRFA-10. Implementation of on-going activities regarding plant and animal genetic resources expectedly received considerable attention. With AnGR at the center of developments, an international technical conference will be held in 2007, to mark the completion of the first report on the State of the World’s AnGR. It remains to be seen whether this conference will then pave the way for a treaty on AnGR, a call made by many African countries and NGOs.

On the other hand, the long-standing item of the draft code of conduct on biotechnology will have to wait another two years before moving ahead. Nevertheless, in response to a lengthy list of gaps in the current international framework identified by the Secretariat, and numerous voices expressing concern, the draft code of conduct has been included in the forthcoming multi-year programme of work (MYPOW).

Finalizing the Treaty had kept the Commission busy for a good number of years, and issues related to the ITPGR will remain prominent in future agendas. At this meeting, defining the future relationship with the Treaty’s Governing Body dominated much of the discussions. However, delegates sought a new vision and successfully addressed the challenge of setting up the process for the Commission’s new work programme. In this regard, a multi-year programme of work (MYPOW) will be prepared for submission to the next session. The re-orientation towards other aspects of the Commission’s mandate –  to address forestry, fishery and microbial genetic resources, and the inclusion of the agro-ecosystem approach in the future MYPOW – were highlighted as major achievements. By kick-starting the implementation of its full mandate and deciding to strengthen cooperation with the CBD, the Commission can consolidate its position as the leading international body dealing specifically with issues related to genetic resources for food and agriculture, and shape international developments in the field.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CGRFA

The FAO Commission on Plant Genetic Resources was established in 1983. Renamed the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in 1995, it currently comprises 165 countries and the European Community. The CGRFA’s main objectives are to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food and agriculture, as well as the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use.

The CGRFA develops and monitors the Global System on Plant Genetic Resources and the Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources. It also facilitates and oversees cooperation between the FAO and other relevant bodies, including the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD. Its regular sessions are held every two years and extraordinary sessions are convened when necessary. In 1997, the Commission established two subsidiary bodies, the ITWG-PGR and the ITWG-AnGR, to deal with specific issues in these areas. The Commission’s mandate has not yet been implemented for forestry and fishery genetic resources.

PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES: The development of the Global System on Plant Genetic Resources began in 1983. The Global System contains two key elements: the Report on the State of the World’s PGRFA and the Global Plan of Action (GPA) for the conservation and sustainable utilization of PGRFA. The first Report on the State of the World’s PGRFA was presented at the fourth International Technical Conference held in Leipzig, Germany, in 1996. The GPA, adopted through the Leipzig Declaration, comprises a set of activities covering capacity building and in situ and ex situ conservation of PGRFA. The Global System also includes: the non-binding International Undertaking on PGRFA (IU); the International Code of Conduct for Plant Germplasm Collecting and Transfer; gene bank standards and guidelines; the draft code of conduct on biotechnology; crop and thematic networks; the international network of ex situ collections; and the World Information and Early Warning System.

ANIMAL GENETIC RESOURCES: Initiated in 1993, the Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources provides a technical and operational framework for assisting countries. It comprises: an intergovernmental mechanism for policy development; a country-based global infrastructure to help States plan and implement national strategies; a technical support programme aiming at the country level; and a reporting and evaluation system to guide the Strategy’s implementation and facilitate collaboration. A communication and information tool, called the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System, assists the Strategy’s implementation.

ITPGR: The ITPGR entered into force on 29 June 2004, ninety days after the deposit of its 40th instrument of ratification. Sixty-one countries and the European Community have now ratified the Treaty, a legally binding instrument that targets the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA and equitable benefit-sharing for sustainable agriculture and food security. The Treaty establishes a Multilateral System (MS) for facilitated access to a specified list of PGRFA, balanced by benefit-sharing in the areas of information exchange, technology transfer, capacity building and commercial development. The list of crops in Annex I defines the Treaty’s scope and includes 35 crop genera and 29 forage species.

The Treaty negotiations were based on the revision of the non-binding IU. The IU was originally based on the principle that PGRFA should be “preserved … and freely available for use” as part of the “common heritage of mankind.” This principle was subsequently subjected to “the sovereignty of States over their plant genetic resources,” according to FAO Resolution 3/91. In April 1993, the CGRFA decided that the IU should be revised to be in harmony with the CBD.

Negotiations spanned more than seven years. From 1994 to 1998, the CGRFA met in five extraordinary and two regular sessions to develop the structure of and refine a draft negotiating text. From 1999-2001, a contact group chaired by Amb. Fernando Gerbasi (Venezuela) held six sessions to address contentious issues, including the list of crops to be included in the MS, benefit-sharing, intellectual property rights (IPRs) to materials in the MS, financial resources, genetic materials held by the IARCs, and definition of key terms. CGRFA’s sixth extraordinary session (Rome, June-July 2001) attempted to conclude negotiations, but delegates did not reach agreement on: the definitions of PGRFA and genetic material; the application of IPRs to materials in the MS; the IU’s relationship with other international agreements; and the list of crops to be included in the MS. The session adopted the text and transmitted outstanding issues to the FAO Council.

The 121st FAO Council and an Open-ended Working Group held under its auspices (Rome, October-November 2001) resolved outstanding issues, and on 3 November 2001, the 31st FAO Conference adopted the ITPGR by a vote of 116 in favor, zero against and two abstentions. The Interim Committee was convened to: prepare draft rules of procedure and draft financial rules for the ITPGR Governing Body, and a budget proposal; propose procedures for compliance; prepare draft agreements to be signed by the IARCs and the Governing Body; draft a standard Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) for facilitated access, including terms for commercial benefit-sharing; and initiate cooperative arrangements with the CBD COP.

FIRST MEETING OF THE ITPGR INTERIM COMMITTEE: During the first meeting of the CGRFA acting as the ITPGR Interim Committee (Rome, October 2002), delegates adopted the rules of procedure for the Interim Committee and established an Open-ended Working Group to propose draft rules of procedure and financial rules for the Governing Body, and draft procedures for compliance. They also adopted the terms of reference for an Expert Group to address the terms of the standard MTA.

CGRFA-9: The ninth session of the CGRFA (Rome, October 2002) addressed issues related to animal and plant genetic resources, including the Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources, and implementation and monitoring of the GPA. Delegates also revised the interim MTA between the IARCs of the CGIAR and the FAO, and considered the status of the draft code of conduct on biotechnology.

CGRFA-10 REPORT

On Monday, Robert Bertram (US), Chair of the ninth session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA-9) opened the meeting and highlighted the celebration of the Commission’s twentieth anniversary. Noting the recent accession of Serbia and Montenegro to the Commission, Louise Fresco, FAO Assistant Director-General for Agriculture, highlighted the need to lay the foundations for CGRFA’s future work, particularly regarding: animal genetic resources; further cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity; implications of the entry into force of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture; and public awareness-raising. CGRFA-9 Chair Bertram stressed that AnGR require urgent and strategic attention. He underscored the Commission’s role in voicing the needs and interests of the agricultural sector regarding the protection and sustainable use of genetic resources, and highlighted the role of genetic resources for food security and income generation for farmers.

Delegates then adopted the agenda and timetable (CGRFA-10/04/1 and 2) and elected the meeting’s Bureau. Upon a proposal by the Group of 77, Eng-Siang Lim (Malaysia) was elected as CGRFA-10 Chair, and Carlos Mezzadra (Argentina), Djemali M’ Naouer (Tunisia) and Ghaleb El-Eryani (Yemen) as Vice-Chairs. Portugal, on behalf of the OECD group comprising the regions of Europe, North America and Southwest Pacific, nominated Kristianne Herrmann (Australia), Campbell Davidson (Canada) and Elzbieta Martyniuk (Poland) as Vice-Chairs, and Grethe Evjen (Norway) as the meeting rapporteur.

Delegates met in plenary sessions throughout the week. On Monday, a ceremony was organized to mark the Commission’s twentieth anniversary. A dialogue session with civil society was held on Tuesday afternoon. An informal group on the future work of the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (ITWG-PGR) met from Tuesday to Thursday. A contact group was established on Thursday evening to reach compromise on the future work of the Commission. The closing plenary met at 9:00 pm on Friday to adopt the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 1 and 2). This report outlines discussions and summarizes outcomes on each agenda item.

CELEBRATION OF THE COMMISSION’S 20TH ANNIVERSARY

Commencing the celebration of the Commission’s twentieth anniversary, David Harcharik, FAO Deputy Director-General, highlighted the many accomplishments of the Commission over the past twenty years. He noted that some of these achievements, including: the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture; the International Code of Conduct for Plant Germplasm Collection and Transfer; the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of PGRFA; and the ITPGR.

Hamdallah Zedan, CBD Executive Secretary, highlighted examples of interaction between the CBD and the CGRFA. He stressed their mutually supportive roles in the creation of a comprehensive international framework for biodiversity conservation. He noted the ITPGR contribution to the CBD’s work on access and benefit-sharing (ABS), the scope for future collaboration on biodiversity for food security and nutrition, and the CBD initiatives on pollinators and soil biodiversity.

Emile Frison, Director-General of the International Plant Genetic Resource Institute (IPGRI), on behalf of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), highlighted the establishment of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. He noted CGIAR’s ongoing collaboration with the Commission on information exchange and AnGR, and the need for future collaboration on forestry and fishery genetic resources, public awareness and the promotion of underutilized crops.

Panama, on behalf of G-77, and the Netherlands, on behalf of European Community and its Member States (EU), highlighted the Commission’s achievements, including the GPA and the ITPGR. The Netherlands, on behalf of the European Community and its Member States (EU) called for prioritizing discussions on: the ITPGR’s implementation; the Commission’s future work; cooperation with the CBD; and creation of global partnerships to achieve food security and genetic resource conservation.

Underscoring the Commission’s achievements, the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group) called for implementing farmers’ rights, and addressing livestock keepers’ rights. The Southern African Development Community outlined its regional programme for conservation of plant genetic resources.

PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES

Regarding PGRFA, delegates considered: an overview of the FAO Global System and its potential contribution to the ITPGR; the report of the second session of the ITWG-PGR; progress since CGRFA-9; the future work of the ITWG-PGR; and a Norwegian proposal to establish a seed storage facility in Svalbard, in the Arctic Circle.

OVERVIEW OF THE GLOBAL SYSTEM AND ITPGR: On Monday, delegates addressed the FAO Global System on PGRFA and its potential contribution to the implementation of the ITPGR (CGRFA-10/04/3), in order to ensure collaboration between the CGRFA and the ITPGR Governing Body. Several delegates emphasized the need to build synergies and avoid duplication between the two bodies.

Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 1), the Commission recommends continuing work related to the Global System, and requests a document on action taken by CGRFA and its future work on the Global System, for submission to the ITPGR Governing Body.

PROGRESS SINCE CGRFA-9: On Monday, delegates reviewed each of the elements of the Global System separately, making reference to: the report of the second session of the ITWG-PGR (CGRFA-10/04/4); the follow-up to the recommendations of the Commission and the ITWG-PGR regarding PGRFA (CGRFA-10/04/5); and the progress report on the preparation of the second report on the State of the World’s PGRFA (CGRFA-10/04/5 Add.1). Delegates discussed action required on:

  • progress in, and monitoring of, implementation of the GPA;
     

  • the facilitating mechanism for the GPA;
     

  • international plant genetic resources networks;
     

  • the International Code of Conduct on Plant Germplasm Collecting and Transfer;
     

  • the strengthening of seed systems and plant breeding; and
     

  • the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

Many delegates expressed concern about the regional differences in GPA implementation and the need for extra-budgetary resources.

Regarding the report on the preparation of the second State of the World report on PGRFA, delegates considered postponing the timeline for completion from 2006 to 2008, and discussed preparation of thematic studies.

On the GPA, delegates assessed the pilot experience of a new monitoring approach, including a shorter list of indicators, and discussed its application to all countries. They also addressed the establishment of a facilitating mechanism to provide technical and financial assistance for GPA implementation, and discussed its objective and operational activities.

The need to update the International Code of Conduct on Plant Germplasm Collecting and Transfer was discussed, with some developed countries noting that it was not appropriate at this time.

Some developing countries indicated that strengthening seed systems and plant breeding was a high priority. Others proposed preparation of a gap analysis to be discussed at CGRFA-11.

Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 1), the Commission adopts the steps for preparing the second State of the World report on PGRFA as formulated by ITWG-PGR (CGRFA/WG-PGR-2/03/REPORT, Appendix D), and requests FAO to revise the timeline for completion to 2008. The Commission also approves, and annexes to the report, a list of thematic background studies, prioritizing the need to update the first State of the World report.

On implementing and monitoring the GPA implementation, the Commission: requests relevant institutions to respond favorably to requests for capacity-building assistance; adopts the revised indicators and reporting format (CGRFA-10/04/Inf.6); invites CGIAR collaboration; and supports the application of the new monitoring approach to all countries, to integrate monitoring activities with the preparation of the second State of the World report.

On the facilitating mechanism, the Commission agrees that the objective should be to facilitate GPA implementation and to encourage mobilization of technical and financial resources. CGRFA-10 also supports the operational principles, activities and operational structure of the mechanism, annexed to the report. Operational principles include: adding value to existing activities; promoting innovative partnerships; facilitating the engagement of diverse interests; and promoting the involvement of stakeholders. Activities include: providing information; facilitating and catalyzing new partnerships; awareness raising; and assisting stakeholders in developing project proposals. According to its operational structure, the CGRFA will provide overall guidance.

On international plant genetic resources networks, the Commission agrees that support for the functioning of effective networks and strengthening collaboration among networks should be promoted and that case studies on successful networks should be made available.

On the International Code of Conduct for Plant Germplasm Collecting and Transfer, the Commission endorses the recommendation of the ITWG-PGR that, in view of other priorities, it is not appropriate to update the Code at present, noting that its consideration remains on CGRFA’s agenda.

On strengthening seed systems, the Commission recommends that FAO carry out a gap analysis to complement other organizations’ work and avoid duplication. The Commission also stresses the need to strengthen plant breeding capacity in developing countries.

SVALBARD FACILITY: On Wednesday, Norway presented a proposal for the establishment of a seed storage facility in the Arctic Circle, to duplicate material kept in existing gene banks, on a voluntary basis and under “black box” conditions, and to function as an international security backup. He added that governance of the facility could be decided in consultation with interested parties, and that material covered by the ITPGR could be the first benchmark. Most delegates welcomed the initiative.

Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 1), the Commission welcomes and supports the initiative.

FUTURE WORK OF THE ITWG-PGR: On Tuesday, delegates discussed possible areas for future work of the ITWG-PGR (CGRFA-10/04/Inf.3), particularly in light of the entry into force of the ITPGR, focusing on: support to ITPGR implementation; seed systems and plant breeding; and transgenic materials in ex situ collections. An EU proposal to transform the ITWG-PGR into a technical subsidiary body for the Governing Body of the ITPGR did not receive support. An informal group was established to discuss future work of the ITWG-PGR. On Thursday and Friday, Canada reported on informal group discussions, and their outcome was approved on Friday.

Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 2), the Commission decides that the ITWG-PGR should:

  • identify and advise on activities to support the work of the ITPGR Governing Body in relation to the Treaty supporting components, and prepare an analysis on technical cooperation between the CGRFA and the Governing Body;
     

  • review and provide guidance on monitoring GPA implementation and the development of the report on the State of the World’s PGRFA;
     

  • provide guidance on capacity-building initiatives to support PGRFA utilization through seed systems, plant breeding and genetic enhancement;
     

  • receive information on the Svalbard seed storage facility;
     

  • consider the development of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, and its relationship with FAO, the IPGRI and other processes;
     

  • consider IPGRI’s draft guidelines on unintended presence of transgenes in ex situ collections; and
     

  • provide guidance to FAO on how to best support countries to generate, compile and disseminate cultivar-specific nutrient composition data to demonstrate the role of biodiversity in nutrition and food security.

The Commission nominated as new members of the ITWG-PGR: India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Malaysia (Asia); Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Spain (Europe); Zimbabwe, Algeria, Cameroon, Guinea and Uganda (Africa); Canada and the US (North America); Egypt, Iran and Jordan (Near East); Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela (Latin America and the Caribbean); and Australia and Samoa (Southwest Pacific).

ANIMAL GENETIC RESOURCE

GLOBAL STRATEGY: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the Overview of the Global Strategy for the Management of Farm AnGR (CGRFA-10/04/7), underlining the need for extra-budgetary financial resources, particularly for capacity building and further development of information systems.

Members called for: strengthening regional cooperation through regional and national focal points, regional activities and implementation of national priorities; and further development of the Global Strategy, with many developing countries requesting FAO to provide guidance and funding in this regard. Participants debated the need for:

  • complementary ex situ and in situ conservation systems;
     

  • integrated PGRFA and AnGR conservation strategies and their synchronization with water and soil protection and range management;
     

  • country-based planning and implementation strategies; and
     

  • differentiated approaches for high and low input breeds, with developing countries requesting funding for field conservation projects.

Several African countries suggested initiating negotiations on an international treaty on AnGR, with the EU stressing that the finalization of the State of the World’s AnGR is a precondition for the development of any legally binding treaty. NGOs emphasized the legal recognition of livestock keepers’ rights and the CGIAR outlined its collaborative initiatives on capacity building for AnGR.

Final Outcome: The report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 1) acknowledges that erosion of AnGR is continuing and recommends that further action should be taken to assist developing countries to better use, develop and conserve their AnGR. The Commission stresses the need to strengthen national focal points and emphasizes the importance of regional focal points to achieve effective implementation of the Global Strategy and better coordinate regional efforts. The Commission also stresses the need to: better inform and involve policy makers in the implementation of priority actions identified at the country level; implement concrete actions in countries; and mobilize additional financial resources for the further development of the Global Strategy, especially to enable regional training in the sustainable utilization and conservation of AnGR.

The Commission requests FAO to: finalize development of the decision-support tools for the formulation of breeding programmes; prepare a monitoring programme and options for a country-based early warning and response programme; and elaborate a conceptual approach to the conservation of AnGR, considering complementary in situ and ex situ measures and stressing that appropriate methodologies need to be further developed in this regard. The Commission further agrees that the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System should be further developed, and recommends that FAO continue to develop the Global Strategy in collaboration with all relevant organizations.

REPORT OF THE ITWG-ANGR: On Tuesday, Carlos Mezzadra (Argentina), Chair of the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITWG-AnGR), presented the group’s recommendations (CGRFA/10/04/8), including: a revised schedule and process for preparing the first State of the World report; a follow-up mechanism; strengthening national and regional focal points; a study on developments in biotechnology; a proposal for country-based monitoring; and examination of the feasibility of AnGR gene banks.

Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 1), the Commission endorses the report of the ITWG-AnGR and stresses the need to facilitate priority action at the country level when configuring the constituent elements of a follow-up mechanism.

STATE OF THE WORLD REPORT: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the documents on the preparation of the first State of the World report on AnGR (CGRFA-10/04/9 and Add.1-3), requiring guidance on, inter alia, identifying strategic priorities for action, configuring the follow-up mechanism, and addressing the need for extra-budgetary resources.

Delegates supported rescheduling the preparation of the report to 2006, holding regional consultations and convening an international technical conference in 2007, and establishing a follow-up mechanism, with the African Group requesting a clear reflection of its implementation component. Participants also discussed: identifying gaps and needs for preparation of the report and using regular FAO funding in this regard; and the importance of field-level action, stakeholder awareness, and regional representation in the reporting process.

On setting up regional focal points, delegates considered a proposal based on the EU experience, suggesting that the FAO provide start-up funding to initiate secretariats that will subsequently be funded regionally.

Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 1) the Commission: endorses the revised schedule and suggests an outline for the completion of the report on the State of the World’s AnGR; decides that it should be finalized at the first international technical conference on AnGR in 2007; and recommends that a detailed operational plan be prepared to identify the necessary requirements for its timely preparation. It also agrees that a committee be set up to plan for the conference and develop an agenda in consultation with ITWG-AnGR.

The Commission notes the need to further develop the draft Report on Strategic Priorities for Action (CGRFA-10/04/9), and recommends that FAO undertake regional consultations in 2005 based on the updated Report. It further: recommends the establishment of a follow-up mechanism led by the Global Focal Point; stresses that much of the mechanism should be devolved to the national and/or regional levels; and appeals to donors to support these initiatives. The report also reflects diverging views about the negotiation of an international treaty on AnGR and the safeguarding of livestock keepers’ rights.

FUTURE WORK OF THE ITWG-ANGR: On Tuesday, Chair Lim identified as priority tasks for the ITWG-AnGR: the review of the draft State of the World report; review of the report on strategic priorities for action, including preparation of an international technical conference; evaluation of the follow-up mechanism; and the progress review of the Global Strategy. Delegates approved his suggestions without discussion.

Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 1), the Commission agrees that the ITWG-AnGR should meet in 2006 to, inter alia:

  • review the first draft of the report on the State of the World’s AnGR;
     

  • evaluate the elements and operational aspects of the follow-up mechanism;
     

  • review a report on the result of regional consultations;
     

  • assist the Commission to prepare for the first international technical conference on AnGR; and
     

  • review progress of the Global Strategy.

The Commission elected the following members of the ITWG-AnGR: Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam (Asia); Denmark, France, Germany, Slovenia and Turkey (Europe); Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Ethiopia and Tunisia (Africa); Canada and the US (North America); Egypt, Iran and Yemen (Near East); Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica and Uruguay (Latin America and the Caribbean); and New Zealand and Samoa (Southwest Pacific).

CONSIDERATION OF FAO ACTIVITIES ON AGRICULTURAL BIODIVERSITY

On Wednesday, the Secretariat presented the reports on FAO policies, programmes and activities on agricultural biodiversity, regarding sectorial and cross-sectorial matters, and priority areas for inter-disciplinary action (PAIAs) (CGRFA-10/04/10.1-3).

Delegates addressed PAIAs, and made proposals on harmonizing work of relevant international bodies and on stakeholder participation. Chair Lim urged delegates to promote the CGRFA agenda in the different FAO programmes and activities, and to use its human and financial resources. Delegates also addressed: coordination between FAO activities; organic farming and sustainable agriculture; capacity building for biosafety; harmonization of national legislative efforts on AnGR; and co-existence of conventional and GM crops.

Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 1), the Commission highlights the importance of adequate financial resources for all sectors of genetic resources, specifically plant and animal genetic resources, and welcomes the work carried out by FAO on various aspects of agricultural biodiversity through the PAIAs, particularly on integrated management of the Biological Diversity for Food and Agriculture. The Commission underscores the need for a coherent approach at the international level on issues relevant to genetic resources and the need to avoid duplication.

REPORTS FROM INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

On Wednesday, several intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations addressed the Commission (CGRFA-10/04/11.1-3 and Add.1).

INTER-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS: The CBD outlined relevant decisions of its seventh Conference of the Parties, including: initiation of a global partnership to significantly reduce biodiversity loss by 2010; negotiations on an international legally binding regime on Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS); and a cross-cutting initiative to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) offered to contribute to CGRFA’s work on: facilitating access to and transfer of AnGR; developing the first State of the World report on AnGR through regional consultations; and evaluating the feasibility of AnGR gene banks. The World Intellectual Property Organization reported on the outcomes of the seventh session of its Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, including creation of a policy forum on traditional knowledge, and work on disclosure requirements in patent applications. The United Nations University offered to assist the CGRFA on ITPGR implementation and other areas. The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) stated that the UPOV Convention and the ITPGR should be mutually supportive.

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS: The Center for the Application of Molecular Biology to International Agriculture presented BIOS – Biological Innovation for Open Society, an open access regime for biological enabling technologies. The Intermediary Technology Development Group (ITDG) outlined threats to agricultural biodiversity, including monocultures, proprietary seeds and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Concerned about GMO contamination due to food aid, he invited the Commission to take action to decontaminate the food aid pipeline. Action Aid International called for: effective farmers’ participation in the CGRFA and ITPGR bodies; recognition of traditional knowledge, and farmers’ and women’s contributions; extension of the ITPGR list of crops; allocation of resources for ITPGR implementation; and consideration of unintended gene flow. The Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) highlighted the negative impacts of the International Rice Research Institute’s work on farmers in the region, elaborating issues of corporate control over food and livelihoods, health and the environment.

CGIAR: IPGRI presented a report on the activities of the International Agricultural Centers (CGIAR), including partnerships with other institutions and organizations. He outlined activities on livestock, aquatic and forestry genetic resources, and tabled a CGIAR proposal to establish an international research facilitation unit cutting across all agricultural biodiversity components.

Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 1), the Commission notes the importance of the work of OIE and welcomes the information provided in the report of the CGIAR.

COOPERATION WITH THE CBD

On Wednesday, the Secretariat outlined issues and ways to strengthen cooperation with the CBD (CGRFA 10/04/12), including an in-depth review of the CBD work programme on agricultural biodiversity and further development of agricultural biodiversity indicators.

Participants supported:

  • collaboration for developing an international ABS regime;
     

  • reporting and developing indicators;
     

  • linking the GPA with the Global Plant Conservation Strategy;
     

  • reviewing the CBD work programme on agricultural biodiversity; and
     

  • reporting on the establishment of the initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition at the next meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice.

The CBD emphasized that FAO is its lead partner for the implementation of its work programme on agricultural biodiversity and prioritized, inter alia, the cross-cutting initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition, and further work on domesticated animal breeds and plant varieties.

Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 1), the Commission notes FAO’s important role in the implementation of the CBD’s work programmes on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and welcomes the preparation of the revised Memorandum of Cooperation between the organizations. The Commission also decides to consider how the GPA can contribute to the Global Strategy on Plant Conservation, in particular target 9 on conservation of 70% of the crops and plant genetic diversity and associated indigenous knowledge; and recommends that FAO play a leading role in the in-depth review of the Convention’s work programme on agricultural biodiversity. The Commission supports that:

  • FAO contribute to the establishment of a cross-cutting initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition, within the CBD’s work programme on agricultural biodiversity;
     

  • FAO offer to lead, in collaboration with the CBD’s Executive Secretary, a process that engages stakeholders in the agriculture sector in an analysis of the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for Sustainable Use of Biodiversity; and
     

  • FAO work on agricultural biodiversity indicators, including indicators on genetic resources for food and agriculture, to assist in determining progress toward the Convention’s 2010 target to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.

The Commission also recommends that the FAO and the Commission contribute to further work on ABS, in order to ensure that it is supportive of the special needs of the agriculture sector.

DRAFT CODE OF CONDUCT ON BIOTECHNOLOGY

On Wednesday, delegates addressed the progress report on the draft code of conduct on biotechnology (CGRFA-10/04/13). They discussed a list of potential areas for future work, identified on the basis of a gap analysis undertaken by the Secretariat in collaboration with other organizations. Many highlighted the need for the Commission to work on: gene flow and liability; national capacity building; biosafety and environmental concerns; ABS issues; incentives to promote appropriate modern biotechnologies; and genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs). 

On Friday, delegates discussed ways to proceed. Noting delayed submission of the report, Australia, Canada, Uruguay and the US suggested its further consideration at CGRFA-11. Angola, Cuba and Norway emphasized the importance of the issue and the need for immediate progress. The EU called for an intersessional process to keep the issue under review. A Cuban proposal to address the item at the first meeting of the ITPGR Governing Body did not receive support, and delegates finally accepted Chair Lim’s suggestion to consider relevant elements of the code of conduct during preparation of the multi-year programme of work (MYPOW), for further discussion at CGRFA-11. The Secretariat recalled that the ITWG-PGR will address the IPGRI guidelines on transgenes in ex situ collections, and that the CBD COP has requested the Commission to work on GURTs.

Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 2), the Commission decides to refer the document to CGRFA-11, and take into consideration the following fields as appropriate for future work on preparing the MYPOW:

  • conservation of genetic resources for food and agriculture in the centers of origin and ex situ collections;
     

  • appropriate biotechnologies that apply to genetic resources for food and agriculture;
     

  • ABS issues;
     

  • national capacity building and international cooperation;
     

  • biosafety and environmental concerns;
     

  • GURTs;
     

  • gene flow and liability; and
     

  • incentives to promote appropriate biotechnologies. 

DIALOGUE WITH CIVIL SOCIETY

A dialogue session with civil society was held on Tuesday. Initiating the dialogue, the ETC Group illustrated areas of concern for civil society, including: GURTs; genetic contamination of ex situ collections; and producers’ rights to cover livestock, fishery and forestry sectors.

The League of Pastoral People, supported by Nigeria, underscored that recognition of legally binding rights for livestock keepers would provide them with an opportunity to market local breeds and germplasm. He stressed the importance of indigenous knowledge in maintaining local breeds and understanding the interaction between plants and animals. The ITDG emphasized the multiple roles of civil society in animal resource conservation and stressed that a treaty on AnGR would facilitate in situ conservation of livestock breeds, keeping in view the lifestyle of pastoralist communities. Tunisia said that national participatory processes should lead to the full involvement of civil society organizations, and called upon their participation in the Global Strategy on AnGR.

The Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano reported on the genetic contamination of traditional maize varieties in Mexico, and called for precautionary measures, including a moratorium on the cultivation of transgenic crops and a transgenic food import ban. Stressing the lack of information on GMO seeds, the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum noted these seeds are expensive and adversely affect farmers’ livelihoods.

The ETC Group suggested: creating a farmers’ rights panel, with farmers’ representatives, to report to CGRFA meetings; working on basic producers’ rights; further addressing IPR issues; and considering a code of conduct on new technologies. The ITDG urged the CGRFA to address a broadly defined agenda on agricultural and food policy, including the role of new technologies, and called for government engagement in a public debate on sustainable and diverse food systems.

FUTURE WORK OF THE COMMISSION

On Thursday morning, delegates discussed the future work of the commission (CGRFA-10/04/14), focusing on: preparing a MYPOW; promoting synergies; streamlining the Commission’s work; and providing options for the structure of future sessions of the Commission. Most delegates welcomed the preparation of MYPOW and a roadmap for consideration at CGRFA-11. Upon a suggestion by the Secretariat, many countries supported the adoption of an agro-ecosystem approach to genetic resource conservation and biodiversity for food and agriculture. Several delegates prioritized ITPGR implementation and cooperation with the Governing Body. They also favored, together with the CBD Secretariat, extending the work of the Commission to other genetic resources, including fisheries, forestry and microorganisms. The G-77, with support from civil society, proposed working on the draft code of conduct on biotechnology and addressing poverty alleviation.

In the afternoon, delegates were presented with a Chair’s text summarizing ideas put forwarded in the discussion, including: preparation of the MYPOW for consideration at CGRFA-11; analysis of available FAO human and financial resources to support work on other genetic resource sectors, and on the status and needs of these sectors, for CGRFA-11 consideration; continued work on plant and animal genetic resources; support to ITPGR implementation; and oversight of cooperation with the CBD. Chair Lim added that a document containing all country views expressed during the discussion would be annexed to his proposal, if accepted. Regional groups requested time to review the proposal.

In an evening session, the Commission discussed the Chair’s text, including textual amendments made by North America and Southwest Pacific. Many developing countries were not ready to negotiate the new text, and called for further clarification on the process. Chair Lim established a contact group, composed of regional representatives, to reach a compromise. On Friday, Chair Lim presented the contact group’s document on the agreed future work of the Commission, which was adopted by acclamation. Delegates also agreed that the document containing all country views should not be annexed to the report of the meeting, because it did not fully reflect the discussion.

Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR-PART 2), the Commission decides that its future work includes:

  • submitting the MYPOW, in collaboration with relevant services and PAIAs of FAO and in consultation with regional groups, to CGRFA-11;
     

  • preparing an analysis of FAO human and financial resources and a gap analysis to support work on various sectors of genetic resources relating to food and agriculture;
     

  • as an immediate priority, continuing work on plant and animal genetic resources, with appropriate emphasis on AnGR, including strengthening at the national and regional levels;
     

  • mobilizing FAO regular budget resources and, if required, extra-budgetary ones for the work of the Commission;
     

  • supporting the implementation of the ITPGR;
     

  • strengthening, within the CGRFA’s mandate, mutual cooperation with the CBD and other organizations;
     

  • preparing a document for CGRFA-11 consideration on status and needs of sectors of genetic resources relating to food and agriculture other than plant and animals, biodiversity for food and agriculture, the agro-ecosystem approach to genetic resources conservation and cross-sectorial matters, with a view to implement the CGRFA’s full mandate in medium and long term; and
     

  • contributing, within the CGRFA’s mandate, to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and on ensuring environmental sustainability.

The Commission also agreed that the Secretariat and the Bureau should consider and report to CGRFA on ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Commission’s operations.

CLOSING PLENARY

The closing Plenary convened at 9:00 pm. Chair Lim drew attention to the report of the meeting (CGRFA-10/04/DR- PART 1 and 2), including the Commission’s decisions, noting prior approval by the Bureau. Rapporteur Evjen introduced a number of textual and substantive amendments made in consultation with regional groups. Delegates adopted the report without discussion, decided that CGRFA-11 will be held in Rome in late 2006, and recorded a statement of appreciation to Secretariat members Josďż˝ Esquinas-Alcďż˝zar and Clive Stannard for their invaluable contribution to the Commissionďż˝s achievements. Following a proposal by the African Group, the Commission took note of the contributions of civil society and NGOs. Regional groups made closing statements expressing their appreciation to Chair Lim and the Secretariat. Chair Lim closed the meeting at 10:10 pm.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

SECOND SESSION OF THE ITPGR INTERIM COMMITTEE: The second meeting of the CGRFA acting as the ITPGR Interim Committee will convene from 15-19 November 2004, at FAO headquarters, in Rome, Italy. The meeting will address:

  • the recommendations of the Expert Group on the terms of the standard material transfer agreement;
     

  • draft rules of procedure and draft financial rules for the ITPGR Governing Body;
     

  • draft procedures for compliance;
     

  • a draft funding strategy for ITPGR implementation;
     

  • a draft work programme and budget for adoption by the Governing Body;
     

  • a work programme and budget for the Interim Committee;
     

  • a draft model agreement between the Governing Body and the IARCs of the CGIAR; and
     

  • cooperation with international bodies.

For more information, contact: Alvaro Toledo, CGRFA Secretariat; tel: +39-6-5705-2753; fax: +39-6-5705-6347; e-mail: Alvaro.Toledo@fao.org; internet: http://www.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/docsic2.htm 

This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin ďż˝ <enb@iisd.org> is written and edited by Asmita Bhardwaj; Stefan Jungcurt; Elisa Morgera; and Elsa Tsioumani. The Digital Editor is Francis Dejon. The Editor is Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D. <pam@iisd.org> and the Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James ďż˝Kimoďż˝ Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the Government of the United States of America (through the Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs), the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape (SAEFL), the United Kingdom (through the Department for International Development - DFID), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Germany (through the German Federal Ministry of Environment - BMU, and the German Federal Ministry of Development Cooperation - BMZ), and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. General Support for the Bulletin during 2004 is provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Government of Australia, Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Swan International, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES) and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute - GISPRI). Funding for translation of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin in French has been provided by the International Organization of the Francophonie (IOF) and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The opinions expressed in the Earth Negotiations Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556. or 212 East 47th St. #21F, New York, NY 10017, USA.