Dear friends and colleagues,

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture has tasked a Working Group to develop an effective system for benefit sharing by companies that use crop seeds from the Treaty’s Multilateral System. The current system uses a standard material transfer agreement with several benefit sharing options, including a voluntary-only option, and has failed to yield payments.

At its fifth meeting, held in Geneva from 12 to 14 July 2016, the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group to Enhance the Functioning of the Multilateral system of Access and Benefit-Sharing modestly advanced discussions on the creation of a “subscription system” to cover access and benefit sharing for the list of key crops contained in the Treaty’s Annex 1. 

An issue that captured attention was the possible imminent ratification vote on the Treaty by the United States Senate. There are concerns that this could adversely affect the Working Group’s efforts because US government officials are thought to be eager to back Monsanto, the seed and chemical giant, which is expressing displeasure with the direction of the Working Group.  Although the US is not yet a Party, an official actively participated at the Geneva meeting as part of the Canadian delegation.

Attached is a detailed report by Edward Hammond of Prickly Research (USA) who participated in the meeting.

With best wishes,
Third World Network

Meeting report of Seed Treaty benefit sharing system reform