Brainfood: Grazing behaviour, XW, Swedish Neolithic, Apple genome impact, Mango diversity, Blueberry quality, Durum genome, Ancient sorghum, Nordic rye, Tomato flavour, Diets & health, CGIAR & ITPGRFA

3 Replies to “Brainfood: Grazing behaviour, XW, Swedish Neolithic, Apple genome impact, Mango diversity, Blueberry quality, Durum genome, Ancient sorghum, Nordic rye, Tomato flavour, Diets & health, CGIAR & ITPGRFA”

  1. The “CGIAR Operations” paper

    CGIAR sample distribution – 4 million samples in ten years: “…represents 93% of the reported global distribution of germplasm under the multilateral system.” Fantastic.

    “To date, there has been only one payment to the Plant Treaty’s Benefit Sharing Fund as a result of the mandatory monetary benefit-sharing conditions included in the SMTA.” Terrible.

    There is confusion in the penultimate paragraph, which emphasises nonmonetary benefits: “…nonmonetary benefits are absolutely critical to reach the Plant Treaty’s objectives…” and “Nonmonetary benefits should be integrated much more systematically into the future work of the [Treaty] Governing Body…” However, reason then prevails: “The monetary value of improved crops and associated technologies, information, and enhanced capacities around the world far exceeds the levels of income and impact that could possibly be made by revised monetary benefit-sharing conditions under the multilateral system”. Just so: so why give emphasis to nonmonetary benefits?

    The continuing problems over benefit-sharing that are now wrecking the Treaty could easily have been avoided by an emphasis on the very high monetary value of introduced crops. For most countries crops introduced from other continents have a higher monetary value than native crops.

    I warned in 1988 (from CIAT): “The continued improvement of introduced crops worth $100 bn annually to developing countries has been overlooked in the current international debate on plant genetic resources and may be placed in jeopardy by increasing emphasis on issues of conservation and ownership of plant germplasm, to the neglect of plant introduction.” I noted that Centre germplasm collections allow: “plant introduction on a grand scale.” I concluded that: “…the self-interest of most developing countries would be served better in the short term by an aggressive policy of controlled crop introduction in line with national agricultural research and development needs.” [].

    Sixteen years later the Treaty ignored the vast value of crop introduction (in itself of greater value than the entire “Green Revolution”) as we were told by ill-informed NGOs that `indigenous crops were better and therefore hang onto your germplasm’ (which countries are still doing in an extensive example of self-harm).

    Introduced crops are critical to food and nutrition in most countries. The monetary value of introduced crops can be readily calculated for every country. In 70% of developing countries (at least in Africa and Latin America) it is higher than the value of native crops. It is utter folly to sit on your national germplasm in expectation of monetary benefits when there has been in 15 years “only one payment” to the Treaty fund.

  2. Confusion over non-monetary benefits? Well, exactly, that’s the whole point. The so-called “non-monetary benefits” (access to genetic resources, information sharing, technology transfer, capacity building) bring far greater monetary benefits to developing countries than the so-called “monetary benefits” (payments into the benefit-sharing fund). Confusing indeed.

  3. Ruaraidh: The whole point about the monetary benefits from the entire CGIAR is that they are the easily quantifiable vast economic benefits directly produced by introduced crops – starting with the Green Revolution wheat in India (from CIMMYT) and dozens more examples. The CG adds value – sometimes massively – to CG-stored germplasm. Some CG ag-economists should have been consulted on this. I’d guess the value is up above $100 billion a year.
    The confusion seems to follow from blindly accepting fuzzy usage from the legal texts. For example, The “Operations” paper, p. 10. “CGIAR centers pursue their mission primarily through generation of what are described as nonmonetary benefits in the lexicon of the ITPGRFA (Article 13), the Convention on Biological Diversity (Articles 16–18), and the Nagoya Protocol (Annex)…”. But the ITPGRFA and the CBD make no mention of nonmonetary benefits at all – certainly no “lexicon” of use. Nagoya is unspecific: “Benefits may include monetary and non-monetary benefits, including but not limited to those listed in the Annex.”

    The “Operations” paper then admits: “Although the use of these technologies and knowledge results in increased household income, as well as national and regional economic development, they are considered nonmonetary benefits under the Plant Treaty.” Why accept this? As the CGIAR is probably the greatest engine of crop introduction and the essential maintenance of introduced crops (of vast monetary value) then why on earth should the CGIAR go along – as you do above – with the gobbledegook usage of the massively failing ITPGRFA? Which, I can remind people, was negotiated and foisted off on Centres by dubious negotiations in Rome heavily influenced by NGOs and followed by a meeting in IRRI where the Romans were told that Centres would go on unrestrictedly distributing samples (to the obvious confusion of the Romans who were ignorant of the obligations of the Centres). All, may I add, against my massive protests that the CGIAR was being taken into a quagmire.
    What do countries want? $100 billion a year added value to their crop production or pitiful funding for dodgy projects (not cash) under the ITPGRFA benefit-sharing mechanism.

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