It started with a seed 20 years ago

As the International Plant Treaty celebrates its 20th birthday, here’s a nice interview with the current Secretary, Kent Nnadozie. Want a quick summary of the Treaty’s achievements? Kent has you covered:

To begin with, we have been able to set up fully functional mechanisms out of the text of the Treaty. We have established a multilateral system for access and benefit-sharing, which is like the global pool of genetic material and seeds that facilitates the breeding of new varieties of crops, and it has enabled over 6.9 million transfers of plant genetic material, supporting global agricultural research. Another achievement is that it is the first international agreement that formally recognized farmers’ rights to save, use, exchange and sell seeds so that farmers’ contributions over thousands of years are fully recognized. The Treaty also strengthens the capacity of farmers and local communities, encouraging their participation in national decision-making. The other achievement deals with the funding strategy, which was established under the Treaty and has enabled the mobilization of enormous amounts of funds and resources to further support farmers in developing countries but also to support gene banks, where this material has been conserved. The Treaty, which currently has 150 Contracting Parties plus the European Union, has also been fundamental in facilitating international cooperation because it provides the platform for governments and other stakeholders to come together to negotiate and set policies for the global governance of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Additionally, it was the adoption of the Treaty that gave Norway the impetus to invest in establishing the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and, since then, has continued to support the Treaty, including through yearly contributions to the Benefit-sharing Fund, based on the value of total annual seed sales in Norway.

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