Dear friends and colleagues,

Expanding the FAO Seed Treaty: Concerns for Developing Countries, Indigenous Peoples and Farmers

In November 2019, after six years of negotiations, a Working Group of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) will present a draft plan to fix the Treaty’s failed Benefit Sharing Fund. The Governing Body of ITPGRFA, comprising the governments that have ratified the Treaty, will then have to seek compromises on remaining unsettled details, and then adopt or reject the plan.

The Report by Edward Hammond deals with one important aspect of the efforts to fix the “Seed Treaty” as it is commonly referred to: What will the Working Group’s proposal mean for access to in-situ plant biodiversity in developing countries? Especially for countries with limited institutional capacity to manage germplasm flows and, very importantly, for the indigenous peoples and local communities that create and conserve agricultural biodiversity.

The paper concludes that that an expansion of the Treaty’s coverage to “all PGRFA” will be undesirable for many indigenous peoples, local communities, and developing countries because of the serious risks that it poses of generating social and economic injustices, to Farmers’ Rights, and to the human rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. That these communities, who are at the forefront of in situ conservation of PGRFA, would be potentially alienated from their genetic resources and have their interests harmed by the Treaty is a terrible irony, given the Treaty’s ostensible goal of supporting them.

With best wishes,

Third World Network