This biennium was characterized by a compilation of submissions that the Plant Treaty Secretariat had been requested to do, by dialogues within the FAO and an initiative on the interrelations between with the Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) relating to Farmers’ Rights.
For the first time, the Secretariat compiled and analyzed all submissions relating to Farmers’ Rights since the entry into force of the Plant Treaty. Input from altogether 17 countries that were parties to the Plant Treaty and 17 organizations were covered by this compilation and analysis and presented in a report. In addition, a group of organizations provided their input through an addendum to the report. The report and addendum were presented at the Sixth Session of the Governing Body of the Plant Treaty.
In the FAO, there were interesting developments relating to Farmers’ Rights. The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) had presented the High-Level Panel of Experts Report (HLPE) on “Food Security and Climate Change” at its 39th session in 2012 and at its 41st session in October 2014, the CFS endorsed the “Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems”. One of these principles was entitled “Respect cultural heritage and traditional knowledge, and support diversity and innovation” (Principle 7). This principle reads: “Responsible investment in agriculture and food systems respects cultural heritage and traditional knowledge, and supports diversity, including genetic diversity, and innovation”. Such investment inter alia recognizes the contributions of farmers, especially smallholders in all regions of the world, particularly those in centers of origin and diversity, in conserving, improving, and making available genetic resources, including seeds, thereby respecting their rights, to save, use, exchange, and sell these resources, and recognizing the interests of breeders. Furthermore, responsible investment, according to this principle promotes fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources for food and agriculture, on mutually agreed terms, in accordance with international treaties, where applicable for parties to such treaties. These, and other details of this principle, echo the provisions on Farmers’ Rights in the Plant Treaty. During this 41st session of the CFS, the Secretariat of the Treaty organized a side event on “Food Security and Nutrition through the Sustainable Use and Innovation of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture as Key Elements for Implementing Farmers’ Rights”.
Following from the Farmers’ Rights resolution adopted at the Fifth Session of the Plant Treaty’s Governing Body, the Secretariat invited contracting parties (countries) and civil society organizations to provide their input on possible areas of interrelations among the international instruments of the Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), the World Intellectual Property Organization WIPO and the Plant Treaty with regard to Farmers’ Rights. The Secretary of the Plant Treaty exchanged views with the Office of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) and with the Secretariat of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). On this basis, the submissions were referred from the Bureau of the Plant Treaty to the Ad Hoc Technical Advisory Committee on Sustainable Use (ACSU) for its second meeting in March 2015. All submissions received were compiled and made available in document IT/ACSU-2/15/Inf.5 (PDF), which was also brought to the attention of UPOV and WIPO.
Further details about these intersessional developments can be found in the report IT/GB6/15/13 (PDF) prepared by the Secretariat of the Plant Treaty for the Sixth Session of the Treaty’s Governing Body.