Have your say—international sharing of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture

Consultation has concluded

Image of a field of wheat

The department is seeking your insights about proposed changes to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

Your input will help inform Australia’s position when proposed changes to the treaty are discussed at an international meeting in Rwanda later this year.

We want to ensure any changes to the treaty are ultimately good for Australia’s agriculture, industry and research sectors, as well as those of our neighbouring regions such as the Pacific.

About the treaty

The treaty provides a framework for the world-wide sharing of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture to foster biodiversity and drive productivity.

The broad aim of this treaty is to protect and enhance access to plant genetic resources, and the global benefits arising from their use, in order to:

  • increase farm productivity and income for farmers

  • increase global availability of diverse and nutrient-rich food

  • minimise the threat to global food security posed by adverse environmental impacts (e.g. climate change), including by enhancing farmers’ resilience to production shocks.

The proposed changes

The treaty’s governing body is considering ways to improve access to genetic material by those countries who are signatories to the treaty—including:

  • changing the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (template for transferring plant genetic resources) to generate further funding into the Benefit-Sharing Fund

  • by expanding the treaty’s coverage to include all plant species that are present in all signatory countries.

You can find the full papers being considered by the governing body on the website of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

We want to hear from you

This online consultation is open to all Australian stakeholders, but you will find it easier to participate if you have some knowledge of the treaty—including its Standard Material Transfer Agreement–an agreement between providers and recipients of plant genetic resources outlining the obligations of each party.

Submissions are particularly being sought from those stakeholders who work with, use or perform research on plant genetic resources.

Your insights will support Australia’s attendance at the governing body meeting in Rwanda later this year, and will help to ensure that any decisions made are favourable for Australian agriculture, industry and research sector.

How you can participate

We have prepared a survey below to step you through the proposed changes and to seek your input.

Feel free to answer all of the survey questions or just those that interest you.

Alternatively, if you would like to provide a written submission, it can be uploaded below through our survey tool.

We are particularly interested in your insights about the following:

  • Do you support expanding the treaty’s coverage to include additional plant species? And what might be the potential benefits and risks for Australia in doing so?

  • What are your views about charging different types of users different amounts to gain access to plant genetic material, including providing free access to genetic material for students and researchers?

  • What are your insights about the various specific measures—as spelt out in the survey—that are being proposed to improve access to genetic material? How might some or all of these changes affect you in your own work, as well as the industries and farmers who you represent? (Feel free to answer only those sections of the survey that apply to you and your work.)

Online discussion forum

A discussion forum will be opened on 11 September for you to discuss topics that will help inform the face-to-face meeting in Canberra on 4 October. Follow the project or check back for the announcement of the topics and to have your say.

The department is seeking your insights about proposed changes to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

Your input will help inform Australia’s position when proposed changes to the treaty are discussed at an international meeting in Rwanda later this year.

We want to ensure any changes to the treaty are ultimately good for Australia’s agriculture, industry and research sectors, as well as those of our neighbouring regions such as the Pacific.

About the treaty

The treaty provides a framework for the world-wide sharing of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture to foster biodiversity and drive productivity.

The broad aim of this treaty is to protect and enhance access to plant genetic resources, and the global benefits arising from their use, in order to:

  • increase farm productivity and income for farmers

  • increase global availability of diverse and nutrient-rich food

  • minimise the threat to global food security posed by adverse environmental impacts (e.g. climate change), including by enhancing farmers’ resilience to production shocks.

The proposed changes

The treaty’s governing body is considering ways to improve access to genetic material by those countries who are signatories to the treaty—including:

  • changing the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (template for transferring plant genetic resources) to generate further funding into the Benefit-Sharing Fund

  • by expanding the treaty’s coverage to include all plant species that are present in all signatory countries.

You can find the full papers being considered by the governing body on the website of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

We want to hear from you

This online consultation is open to all Australian stakeholders, but you will find it easier to participate if you have some knowledge of the treaty—including its Standard Material Transfer Agreement–an agreement between providers and recipients of plant genetic resources outlining the obligations of each party.

Submissions are particularly being sought from those stakeholders who work with, use or perform research on plant genetic resources.

Your insights will support Australia’s attendance at the governing body meeting in Rwanda later this year, and will help to ensure that any decisions made are favourable for Australian agriculture, industry and research sector.

How you can participate

We have prepared a survey below to step you through the proposed changes and to seek your input.

Feel free to answer all of the survey questions or just those that interest you.

Alternatively, if you would like to provide a written submission, it can be uploaded below through our survey tool.

We are particularly interested in your insights about the following:

  • Do you support expanding the treaty’s coverage to include additional plant species? And what might be the potential benefits and risks for Australia in doing so?

  • What are your views about charging different types of users different amounts to gain access to plant genetic material, including providing free access to genetic material for students and researchers?

  • What are your insights about the various specific measures—as spelt out in the survey—that are being proposed to improve access to genetic material? How might some or all of these changes affect you in your own work, as well as the industries and farmers who you represent? (Feel free to answer only those sections of the survey that apply to you and your work.)

Online discussion forum

A discussion forum will be opened on 11 September for you to discuss topics that will help inform the face-to-face meeting in Canberra on 4 October. Follow the project or check back for the announcement of the topics and to have your say.

Consultation has concluded
  • Outcomes from the Seventh Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources

    12 months ago

    The Seventh Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources was held 30 October – 3 November 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda. The theme of the Governing Body was the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Overall, there will be no changes to the multilateral system, standard material transfer agreement or benefit-sharing obligations arising from the meeting.

    Meeting highlights

    Opening statements from regional representatives and Contracting Parties emphasised the importance of the Treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the need to maintain momentum and continue making meaningful contributions to food security and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Attendees included representatives from

    • 89 Contracting Parties
    • Other governments
    • Civil society organisations
    • Farmers’ organisations
    • Industry
    • Non-government organisations.

    Key outcomes included:

    • Agreement to continue the momentum on the enhancement of the Multilateral System
      • Contracting Parties discussed the overarching policy principles of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement including:
        • Multiple access options
        • Mandatory vs voluntary payments
        • Enforceability and claiming damages
        • Termination and withdrawal
    • Launch of the fourth call for project proposals under the Benefit-sharing Fund
    • Agreement to a new approach for reviewing the Funding Strategy to ensure continuity and financial stability
    • Establishment of an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Farmers’ Rights to support countries to find ways to implement farmers’ rights
    • Agreement to develop a master plan on the global information system, describing the functionalities of the system and linking it to existing information systems
    • Agreement on an approach to handle digital sequence information.

    In addition, the following intersessional groups will meet over the next biennium.

    • Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Enhancing the Functioning of the Multilateral System to
      • Continue work on revisions of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement
      • Elaborate criteria and options for possible adaptations of the coverage of the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing
    • Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on the Funding Strategy and Resource Mobilisation to
      • Finalise an updated Funding Strategy in line with the following new vision: The funding strategy enables the Governing Body, Contracting Parties, funding agencies, farmers and other relevant actors to secure funding and other resources for the programmatic implementation of the Treaty in a long-term, coordinated, synergistic and effective manner.
    • Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Farmers’ Rights to
      • Produce an inventory of national measures, best practices and lessons learnt of realisation of farmers’ rights
      • Based on the above inventory, develop options for encouraging, guiding and promoting the realisation of farmers’ rights.

    The Resolutions from the Seventh Session of the Governing Body have been released and are available here: http://www.fao.org/plant-treaty/meetings/meetings-detail/en/c/888771/#jfmulticontent_c424255-5

    If you would like more detailed information, summaries from each day of proceedings are available here: http://enb.iisd.org/biodiv/itpgrfa/gb7/.

    If you have any follow-up questions queries please do not hesitate to contact us – PGRFA-Focalpoint@agriculture.gov.au

    The Seventh Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources was held 30 October – 3 November 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda. The theme of the Governing Body was the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Overall, there will be no changes to the multilateral system, standard material transfer agreement or benefit-sharing obligations arising from the meeting.

    Meeting highlights

    Opening statements from regional representatives and Contracting Parties emphasised the importance of the Treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the need to maintain momentum and continue making meaningful contributions to food security and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Attendees included representatives from

    • 89 Contracting Parties
    • Other governments
    • Civil society organisations
    • Farmers’ organisations
    • Industry
    • Non-government organisations.

    Key outcomes included:

    • Agreement to continue the momentum on the enhancement of the Multilateral System
      • Contracting Parties discussed the overarching policy principles of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement including:
        • Multiple access options
        • Mandatory vs voluntary payments
        • Enforceability and claiming damages
        • Termination and withdrawal
    • Launch of the fourth call for project proposals under the Benefit-sharing Fund
    • Agreement to a new approach for reviewing the Funding Strategy to ensure continuity and financial stability
    • Establishment of an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Farmers’ Rights to support countries to find ways to implement farmers’ rights
    • Agreement to develop a master plan on the global information system, describing the functionalities of the system and linking it to existing information systems
    • Agreement on an approach to handle digital sequence information.

    In addition, the following intersessional groups will meet over the next biennium.

    • Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Enhancing the Functioning of the Multilateral System to
      • Continue work on revisions of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement
      • Elaborate criteria and options for possible adaptations of the coverage of the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing
    • Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on the Funding Strategy and Resource Mobilisation to
      • Finalise an updated Funding Strategy in line with the following new vision: The funding strategy enables the Governing Body, Contracting Parties, funding agencies, farmers and other relevant actors to secure funding and other resources for the programmatic implementation of the Treaty in a long-term, coordinated, synergistic and effective manner.
    • Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Farmers’ Rights to
      • Produce an inventory of national measures, best practices and lessons learnt of realisation of farmers’ rights
      • Based on the above inventory, develop options for encouraging, guiding and promoting the realisation of farmers’ rights.

    The Resolutions from the Seventh Session of the Governing Body have been released and are available here: http://www.fao.org/plant-treaty/meetings/meetings-detail/en/c/888771/#jfmulticontent_c424255-5

    If you would like more detailed information, summaries from each day of proceedings are available here: http://enb.iisd.org/biodiv/itpgrfa/gb7/.

    If you have any follow-up questions queries please do not hesitate to contact us – PGRFA-Focalpoint@agriculture.gov.au

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