Rabitz, F. (2017). Access without benefit-sharing: design, effectiveness and reform of the FAO seed treaty. International Journal of the Commons11(2).

The 2001 International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture established a global network of seed banks which grants facilitated access to crops for breeding purposes while aiming that the resulting commercial benefits are shared fairly and equitably. While the treaty has been successful in terms of access, benefits are not being shared. I analyze the causes for the lack of benefit-sharing in terms of the treaty’s institutional design, implementation challenges and the wider problem structure of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Subsequently, I evaluate the options which are currently under discussion for a comprehensive reform. I conclude by proposing a set of measures which would enhance the treaty’s effectiveness both in terms of access to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of relevant benefits.