Profit for a Few or Food for All?
A legally-binding treaty that will safeguard free access to genetic resources to ensure food security, is about to be agreed by 180 governments at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Conference, to be held at the time of the
World Food Summit – Five Years Later, in November 2001:
The International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources (IU).
WHAT IS THE INTERNATIONAL UNDERTAKING?
The International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources is a voluntary agreement of FAO member governments signed in 1983. Negotiations to make it into a legally binding treaty have been ongoing over the last seven years. The agreement is needed, not least, to counter the rapid loss of crop varieties from farmers’ fields, but also to protect the genetic resources stored in public gene banks; and to limit the increasing use of intellectual property rights (IPRs) to claim sole ownership over crop seeds and genes, which is further restricting farmers’ and breeders’ access.