Seed association hands voluntary contributution to FAO plant genetics treaty

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At its Annual Meeting 2015 held in Vienna, Austria, ESA, the European Seed Association, handed over a voluntary financial contribution of €300,000 to the FAO International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources in Food in Agriculture (FAO IT).

ESA had announced this voluntary contribution at its Lisbon congress in October 2014 an now made good on its promise a year later, following a formal announcement made by its Secretary General Garlich von Essen at the FAO’S Governing Body meeting in Rome a week ago. The Treaty is currently undergoing an extensive revision discussion, mainly in view of the lack of financial resources flowing into its Access and Benefit Sharing Fund.

Handing over the donation, ESA President Gerard Backx underlined the importance of the Treaty for continued access to genetic resources worldwide as the principle resource for future plant breeding as well as the need to bring its rules and processes more into line with companies’ business realities.

“We see the FAO IT as the best possible instrument for organising this access as well as the resulting sharing of financial benefits” Backx said, but underlined that “still improvements are needed and expectations must become more realistic of what respective roles breeders and governments must assume”.

At its gathering last week, the FAO IT decided to continue its review discussion for another two years with the aim to adopt a revised system for access and benefit sharing at the next Governing Body. “Our financial donation is a signal of both, trust and positive expectation for the future” said Garlich von Essen, pointing to the constructive dialogue between the Treaty and the seed sector.

Accepting the European seed sector donation, Shakeel Bhatti, Secretary of the FAO IT expressed his gratitude also in view of the political signal sent by the sector with its contribution. “This is a very important and ground-breaking contribution. On behalf of the Treaty community, I would like to really thank ESA for making such an important and far reaching gesture at such an important time for the Treaty. I feel this is part of a long standing close relationship and an important step in taking this forward.” Bhatti underlined during the General Assembly.

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