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08.10.2019 |

Crunch Time for the Seed Treaty

A review of some outstanding issues in the negotiation

Will the effort to fix ITPGRFA’s broken benefit sharing system measure up to expectations?

This paper reviews the key outstanding issues that are expected to be discussed by the ITPGRFA Governing Body, and makes recommendations for what developing countries, farmers, and other civil society should support in November’s decisive negotiation.

Next month, the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) will hold what may prove to be its most consequential meeting since the Treaty’s inception. On the table will be:

- A draft agreement to revise the Treaty’s Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA), which governs international exchanges of crop seeds, and

- A proposal to expand the coverage of the Treaty’s Multilateral System (MLS) to “all PGRFA” (Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture).

The purpose of the negotiation is supposed to be increasing mandatory payments by the seed industry into the Treaty’s Benefit Sharing Fund – money that supports the in situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity in farmers’ fields. But developed countries are trying to move the goal post.

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