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Title: Legal issues in plant germplasm collecting

item MOORE, GERALD - Bioversity International
item Williams, Karen

Submitted to: Collecting Plant Genetic Diversity: Technical Guidelines
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/2/2011
Publication Date: 11/2/2011
Citation: Moore, G., Williams, K.A. 2011. Legal issues in plant germplasm collecting. Collecting Plant Genetic Diversity: Technical Guidelines. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Many developments have occurred in the legal environment governing plant germplasm collecting since the first edition of this Manual. These include the adoption of the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (the Global Plan of Action) in 1996, the entry into force of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (the Treaty) in June 2004, the establishment of the Global Crop Diversity Trust also in 2004, and the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from the Utilization (the Nagoya Protocol) in 2010. They also include some developments and new activities in the area of Plant Breeders’ Rights. The Global Plan of Action was adopted by 150 countries at an International Technical Conference in Leipzig and reflects a consensus agreement on the main priority activity areas covering in situ conservation and development, ex situ conservation, plant genetic resources utilization, and institutions and capacity building. The Global Plan of Action is now in the process of being updated. The Treaty, which was negotiated to bring the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), establishes a Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing (MLS) for the plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) of a number of crops and forages that are most important for food security and on which countries are most interdependent. Contracting Parties agree to grant facilitated access to PGRFA of crops and forages listed in Annex 1 to the Treaty on the basis of multilaterally agreed terms and conditions, thus obviating the need to negotiate access on a bilateral basis. The multilaterally agreed terms and conditions are set out in a Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) adopted by the Governing Body of the Treaty at its First Session in 2006. The MLS covers only availability of plant genetic resources of Annex 1 crops and forages for the purpose of research, breeding and training for food and agriculture. All Annex 1 PGRFA that are under the management and control of Contracting Parties and in the public domain are automatically included in the MLS. Contracting Parties are to encourage other holders of Annex 1 PGRFA to place them in the MLS. Access to Annex 1 PGRFA in in situ conditions is to be in accordance with national legislation, without prejudice to the other provisions governing the MLS. The Treaty also calls for the establishment of a rational, economically efficient and sustainable global system of ex situ conservation. The Global Crop Diversity Trust was established to provide long term financial resources to secure the sustainability of the global system, and has been recognized by the Treaty as an essential element of the Treaty’s Funding Strategy with respect to ex situ conservation and availability of PGRFA. Access to genetic resources outside the scope of the Treaty is governed by the CBD in contracting nations and will be subject to the terms of the Nagoya Protocol if it enters into force. The Nagoya Protocol sets out in more detail the process for obtaining access to genetic resources and related traditional knowledge, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their use, on the basis of prior informed consent and mutually agreed terms.