No deal

I should of course have pointed this out before, but there was a hashtag for the recently concluded Eighth Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. I’ll have more to say about this somewhat frustrating meeting in due course, but for the moment you can do a lot worse than read the summary in Earth Negotiations Bulletin. Here’s the bottom line, though, if you’re in a hurry:

What exactly happened remains obscure, largely because once negotiations started, they were closed to observers. The facts are the following: a small, closed group of negotiators met day and night from Wednesday evening to the early hours of Saturday morning; according to reports, the group discussed the main controversial items, such as benefit-sharing from DSI1 use, and specific payment rates for benefit-sharing; and on Saturday afternoon, plenary was presented with a Chair’s proposed “package,” including a resolution, a revised SMTA text, text for the amendment of Annex I of the Treaty, and terms for intersessional work. Developing countries rejected it as unfair and unbalanced, particularly regarding DSI. In turn, developed countries opposed continuation of intersessional work on the item.

So, after years of negotiation, there was no agreement on enhancing the functioning2 of the ABS regime the Treaty has put in place, called the Multilateral System3. And no clear way forward to the next meeting, in India in 2021. There was some progress on other important issues, but it’s going to be a bumpy couple of years.

  1. That’s Digital Sequence Data. This report from La Via Campesina explains one side of the argument. []
  2. That is, getting more money into it, faster. Yes, I know money isn’t everything. But it’s important. []
  3. I’ve written for the work blog why having a system that’s multilateral is a good idea. []

2 Replies to “No deal”

  1. via Campesina claims “Since the implementation of the Treaty 15 years ago, the industry has had easier access to all farmers’ seeds stored in the international gene banks of the Treaty’s multilateral trading system.”
    Simply not true: access to CGIAR genebanks has always been `easy’. And what about the SMTA. The fact that financial benefits to the Treaty have been meagre hints that plant breeders are going to some trouble to bypass the SMTA requirements – that is, things are harder.
    Who is paying these lads and lassies?

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