22 June 2001
Row over future of seedbanks

By FWi staff

FINAL efforts are being made next week to reach agreement on access to the worlds seedbanks, reports the Financial Times.

Negotiations at the Commission for Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Rome could determine if the ability to develop new crops.

In the past efforts have foundered over divisions between the US and the rest of the world.

The deepest divisions are over Trips — the property rights regime introduced by the World Trade Organisation.

Expectations are muted, says the FT, and complete failure could lead to dramatic cuts in research programmes.

Currently, thousands of crop seeds are lent out at no charge to provide plant breeders with resources to develop new varieties.

Seed exchanges have been conducted on a basis of common heritage.

But nations have now been made responsible for their own genetic resources, and arguments in Rome will centre on how companies should pay seed donors.

Most countries want royalties to be paid to a central fund but the US opposes any mandatory system.

  • Financial Times, 22 June 2001, page 12

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