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FARMERS' RIGHTS IN ITPGRFA:

New resolution on Farmers' Rights under the Plant Treaty: Task 1

Task 1: Reviewing and adjusting seed regulations and other measures

Through the resolution, the Governing Body "invites Contracting Parties to consider reviewing and, if necessary, adjusting its national measures affecting the realization of Farmers' Rights as set out in Article 9 of the International Treaty, to protect and promote Farmers' Rights".

In order to understand what this first operational provision of the 2009 Farmers' Rights Resolution means in practice, it is useful to review the negotiations that led to this provision.

The original text of this paragraph, as proposed in the draft resolution text, addressed seed regulations explicitly and did not mention other measures. This is because seed regulations have been found to seriously hinder Farmers' Rights to exchange and sell seed in an increasing number of countries, and thus constitutes a barrier to conserving and sustainable using crop genetic diversity (see background documents here and here). Reviewing and adjusting seed regulations in terms of Farmers' Rights where required is thus crucial to enable the achievement of the objectives of the Plant Treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of crop genetic resources.

The original language of the first part of this paragraph of the draft resolution was based on Art. 6.2 [g] of the Plant Treaty, in an effort to enable consensus, since Article 6.2.g is already agreed text. The second part was based on Article 9.3.

Europe agreed on the first part but proposed to simplify the last part of the paragraph, which linked it with Article 9.3, a suggestion that did not affect the substantial formulations regarding seed regulations, and did not weaken the formulation as such. Thus, this proposal was unproblematic (see the resulting text here).

Canada, however, could not accept a wording in the first part of the paragraph based on Article 6.2.g, since the resolution was dealt with under Item 14 of the Agenda of the Third Session: implementation of Article 9 on Farmers' Rights. The argument, pointed out by many countries, that Articles 6 and 9 are closely interlinked, did not affect Canada's stand. Thus, Canada, as the only country blocked this formulation. An informal contact group met in the evening of Thursday 4 June, to seek a consensus formulation. The group consisted of participants from Brazil (4), Europe (3), Africa (2), and Canada (1). Close to midnight a solution was found, which addresses national measures affecting Farmers' Rights.

The contact group considered that 'national measures' include seed regulations, as well as other national laws, regulations, policies, programmes and projects that affect the implementation of Farmers' Rights. In this context, Farmers' Rights refer to all provisions of Article 9, including Farmers' Rights to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed, which are necessary to enable farmers to continue to conserve and sustainably use crop genetic resources.

This means that Contracting Parties should consider reviewing their seed regulations and other measures affecting Farmers' Rights, particularly if these are affecting Farmers' Rights to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed. This is of vital importance to enabling farmers to continue to conserve and sustainably use plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and thus for the implementation of the Plant Treaty.

Read more about:
   Central provisions on Farmers' Rights

Relevant links and documents:
   Final text of the Farmers' Rights resolution
   Draft resolution text before and after
   Information paper on Farmers' Rights submitted by the FNI
   Results of an Online conference on 'Options for Farmers' Rights'



Pages in this sub-section:
   FARMERS' RIGHTS IN ITPGRFA
   New resolution on Farmers' Rights under the Plant Treaty
   New resolution on Farmers' Rights under the Plant Treaty: Task 1
   New resolution on Farmers' Rights under the Plant Treaty: Task 2
   New resolution on Farmers' Rights under the Plant Treaty: Task 3
   New resolution on Farmers' Rights under the Plant Treaty: Task 4
   New resolution on Farmers' Rights under the Plant Treaty: Task 5
Top top
 In this section:
  ABOUT FARMERS' RIGHTS
  Farmers' Rights in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
  Why Farmers' Rights matter
  The contents of Farmers' Rights
  History of Farmers' Rights in the FAO
  Farmers' Rights in the literature
  Civil Society Organizations' approaches to Farmers' Rights

Photo: G. Ulutuncok

Page last updated 2 July 2009