A multilateral system for plant genetic resources: Imperatives, achievements and challenges

TitleA multilateral system for plant genetic resources: Imperatives, achievements and challenges
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsCooper, D, Engels, J, Frison, EA
JournalIssues in Genetic Resoures
Date PublishedMay 1994
Keywordsbiodiversity; plant genetics

Better use of plant genetic resources is critical to meeting the challenges of increasing food production and of alleviating poverty. All countries depend on plant genetic resources origination beyond their borders, which means that international cooperation is essential to secure continued access to these resources. International agreements are also necessary to guarantee their conservation. Both aims can be achieved only if there is an effective mechanism for sharing benefits with the countries that maintain these resources. This paper concludes that a multilateral system, within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity, is required to guarantee these objectives.

Because of the importance of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and their millennia-old history of evolution and exchange between and within farming cultures, they deserve special attention in the international debate on biodiversity. For agriculture, a multilateral approach is preferable, but can co-exist with bilateral arrangements for other uses.

The paper argues that in addition to national conservation efforts, there is a continuing need for international collections, maintained on behalf on the world community, such as those housed in the CGIAR centres. Furthermore, there is a need for a set of international agreements and cooperation mechanisms under a common legal framework, as well as an intergovernmental policy forum and an international fund. This would guarantee conservation of, and access to, plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and ensure the sharing of benefits. Broadening of plant breeding strategies is also required to allow the strengthening of linkages between conservation and development, and to ensure that benefits reach the farmers who continue to maintain and develop genetic resources. (author)

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Short TitleA multilateral system for plant genetic resources

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