- freely available
Diversity 2017, 9(4), 50; doi:10.3390/d9040050
2. Evolution of Underpinning Concepts and Principles
2.1. Genetic Erosion
2.2. What to Conserve
2.3. How to Conserve and Use PGRs
2.4. The Contribution of Biotechnologies to PGR Management
2.5. Who Owns PGRs and How the Owners Should Be Compensated by the Users
- Protection of traditional knowledge, relevant to PGRs;
- Ensuring the right to equitably participate in sharing benefits arising from the utilization of PGRs;
- Ensuring the right to participate in making decisions, on a national level, on matters related to the conservation and sustainable use of PGRs; and
- Safeguarding the farmers’ rights to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed/propagating materials, subject to national law and as appropriate.
2.6. Ownership and Legal Status of Ex Situ Collections Held by International Agricultural Research Centres (IARCs)
2.8. Securing the International PGR Collections
- Approximately 7.4 million germplasm accessions, representing more than 16,500 plant species are currently secured in 1750 gene banks worldwide ;
- Conserved germplasm provides broad genetic diversity that is increasingly used for genetic studies and plant breeding programs, with undeniable benefits for present and future world food production ;
- The adoption of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture has provided a regulatory framework to access, exchange and benefit sharing of PGRs .
- Genetic erosion is far from being stopped, as attested to by the Second Report on the State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources ;
- Payment for environmental services, such as the in situ conservation of PGRs, is not always recognized, for farmers and local communities,
- Conservation programmes are chronically underfunded ,
- The impact of climate change on crop genetic diversity is not fully understood,
- Appropriate capacities and adequate infrastructures to explore and exploit biodiversity are still lacking in many developing countries .
Conflicts of Interest
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|Year||Event||Main Output(s) of Relevance for PGRs and [Reference]||Underpinning Principle(s)|
|1961||FAO (Food abd Agriculture Organization) Technical Meeting on Plant Exploration and Introduction, Rome, 10–20 July.||Report of the meeting.||Mission-driven approach:|
Conservation and use closely linked, tied to plant breeding, dominance of ex situ collections, mainly in developed countries.
|1965||Establishment of the FAO Panel of Experts on Plant Exploration and Introduction.||Six meetings between 1967 and 1975.||Formulation of criteria for the conservation and use of PGRs.|
|1967||FAO/IBP Technical Conference Plant Exploration, Utilization and Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources, Rome, 18–26 September.||Publication .||Generalist approach:|
Rising concern about gene erosion of landraces and wild relatives
Large, long-term ex situ collections
In situ conservation as a complementary/alternative strategy.
|1969||Third Session of the FAO Panel of Experts on Plant Exploration and Introduction, Rome, 25–28 March.||Report .||List of priority geographic areas for exploration and conservation of PGRs.|
|1971||Founding meeting of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Washington, DC, USA, 19 May 1971.||Resolution, establishment of the Technical Advisory Committee.||Linkage between agricultural research and development.|
|1972||Issue of the report of the Agricultural Board of the National Research Council.||||Genetic uniformity as a cause of vulnerability to epidemics.|
|UN Conference on Human Environment, Stockholm, 5–16 June.||Articles 39–45 of the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Human Environment.||Genetic resources issue brought into the international agenda.|
Clear division of tasks between in situ (wild relatives) and ex situ (cultivated plants) conservation.
|TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) Ad Hoc Working Group, Beltsville, 20–25 March.||Report on The Collection, Evaluation and Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources.||Establishment of the World Network of Genetic Resources Centres|
Establishment of a coordinating centre
Support to gene banks already existing in International Agricultural Research Centres (IARCs) of the CGIAR;
Establishment of additional gene banks in other IARCs of the CGIAR.
|1973||FAO/IBP Technical Conference on Genetic Resources, 12–16 March, Rome.||Plan of action .||Recommendation to establish in situ collections.|
|1974||Establishment of the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR).||||Coordination of an international PGR programme.|
FAO acted as secretariat.
|1981||FAO/IBP Technical Conference on Genetic Resources, 12–16 March, Rome.||Publication .||In situ collections best method to conserve variability of wild species.|
|21st Session of the FAO Conference, Rome, 7–25 November.||Resolution 6/81.||Need for an international agreement to ensure the conservation, maintenance and free exchange of PGRs|
Requests FAO to prepare projects for two options: an international agreement and an international gene bank.
|1983||22nd Session of the FAO Conference, Rome, 5–23 November.||Resolution 8/83:|
Adoption of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources
Establishment of the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) and of the Global System on Plant Genetic Resources .
|Shared principles, non-legally binding, on conservation and access to PGRs:|
PGRs are a common heritage of humankind
Genetic stocks and breeding lines included
Freedom of exchange through a network of gene banks
Supervision through the Commission.
|1989||25th Session of the FAO Conference, Rome, 11–29 November.||Resolution 4/89:|
Adoption of an agreed interpretation of the international undertaking.
|Plant breeders’ rights are not inconsistent with the International Undertaking, Recognition of Farmers’ Rights.|
|3rd Regular Session of CGRFA, Rome, 17–21 April.||Call for the development of The International Network of Ex Situ Collections under the Auspices of FAO.||Lack of clarity regarding the legal situation of the ex situ collections.|
|Report||The Commission requested FAO to draft a code of conduct for biotechnology, as it affects conservation and use of genetic resources.|
|1991||26th Session of the FAO Conference, Rome, 9–27 November.||Transformation of the IBPGR into the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI).||Independence of IPGRI.|
|Resolution 3/91.||Recognition of the sovereign rights of nations over their PGRs|
Agreement on the development of the 1st State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources and Global Plan of Action on PGRs.
|1992||UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) Rio de Janeiro, 3–14 June.||Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (entered into force on 29 December 1993).||Biodiversity vs. genetic resources|
Need for a protocol setting out appropriate procedures for safe transfer, handling and use of any living modified organism resulting from biotechnology that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity
Establishment of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety.
|Chapter 14 of Agenda 21.||Call for the strengthening of the FAO Global System on Plant Genetic Resources.|
|Chapter 16 of Agenda 21.||Biotechnology can assist in the conservation of biological resources through, for example, ex situ techniques|
Need for further development of internationally-agreed principles on risk assessment and management of all aspects of biotechnology.
|Adoption of Resolution 3 of the Nairobi Final Act.||Recognises matters not addressed by the convention:|
Access to ex situ collections
The questions surrounding farmers’ rights
Requests FAO forum to address these matters.
|1994||1st Extraordinary Session of the CGRFA.||Start of negotiations for the revision of the international undertaking, 12 centres of the CGIAR sign an agreement with FAO, placing their collections under the auspices of FAO.||Centres agree to hold the designated germplasm “in trust for the benefit of the international community”.|
|Establishment of the “Scarascia Mugnozza Community Genetic Resources Centre”, Chennai.||||Community-based conservation of PGRs.|
|1995||28th Session of the FAO Conference, Rome, 20 October.||19th McDougall Memorial Lecture “The protection of biodiversity and the conservation and use of genetic resources for food and agriculture: potential and perspectives” by G.T. Scarascia Mugnozza .||Biodiversity loss is not only an important environmental problem, but also a socio-economic, political and ethical problem|
Conservation and access to PGRs are essential interests of humankind and are strictly interconnected with food security issues,
Exploration and ex situ conservation of PGRs are essential but must be integrated by in situ, on farm, a community-level conservation strategy,
PGRs should be conserved and made available to scientists and farmers, but access should be regulated by international agreements
Farmers, especially those who work in centres of origin of cultivated plant species, contributed and will contribute, to the conservation and development of PGRs; a financial mechanism to compensate this contribution (Farmers’ rights) should be established
There is also a need to develop equitable mechanisms for technological transfer from industrialized countries to developing countries.
|1996||Science Academies Summit at the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, 8–11 July, Madras.||Madras Declaration.||Appealed to scientists of the world for the maintenance and use of biodiversity of genetic resources important for food and agriculture.|
|4th International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources, Leipzig, 17–23 June.||Leipzig Declaration, Global Plan for Conservation and of Sustainable Utilization of PGRs for Food and Agriculture , State of the World’s PGRs .||Appropriation of in situ and ex situ approaches|
Fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising for the use of genetic resources.
|World Food Summit, Rome, 13–17 November.||Solemn support to Leipzig Plan of Action .|
|1999||1st Extraordinary meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, Cartagena, Colombia, 22 February.||Decision EM-I/1.|
|2000||Resumed Session of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, Montreal, Canada, 24–29 January.||Adoption of the Cartagena protocol on biosafety to the convention on biological diversity (decision EM-I/3).||Protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology|
Advance informed agreement (AIA) procedure, for transboundary movements of LMOs
Reference to a precautionary approach,
Biosafety Clearing-House to facilitate the exchange of information on LMOs.
|2001||31st Session of the FAO Conference, Rome, 2–13 November.||Resolution 3/2001: adoption of the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources (ITPGR) (entered into force on 11 September 2004).||Legally binding,|
Recognition of farmers’ rights
Access to PGRs
Fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from PGR use.
|2002||6th Ordinary Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, The Hague, Netherlands, 7–19 April.||Decision VI/26: Strategic Plan for the Convention on Biological Diversity 2002–2010.||Biodiversity is the living foundation for sustainable development|
The rate of loss is still accelerating
The threats must be addressed,
The convention is an essential instrument for achieving sustainable development.
|UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August–6 September.||Johannesburg declaration on sustainable development.||Emphasis on social and economic aspects of sustainable development.|
|2004||Establishment of the Global Crop Diversity Trust (now renamed Crop Trust).||Endowment fund, the income from which will be used to support the conservation of distinct and important crop diversity, in perpetuity, through existing institutions.||Ensuring an absolutely dependable source of funding for the conservation of PGRs.|
|2005||Publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.||Ecosystems and human well-being .||Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time, to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel|
The changes made have contributed to substantial net gains in human well-being, but at growing environmental costs
Degradation of ecosystem services could grow significantly worse during the first half of this century and is a barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals,
Reversing the degradation of ecosystems, while meeting increasing demands for their services can be partially met, but involve significant changes in policies, institutions, and practices that are not currently under way.
|2006||1st meeting of the Governing Body of International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources (ITPGR), Madrid, 12–16 June.||Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA).||Regulation of the access to and use of PGRs. SMTA is the legal instrument through which the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit Sharing operates.|
|Relationship agreement between the governing body of the treaty and Global Crop Diversity Fund.||Recognition of the Crop Trust as an “essential element” of the treaty’s funding strategy, in regard to ex situ conservation and availability of PGRs, and as an independent scientific organization in raising and disbursing funds.|
|Agreements between the governing body and 12 international agricultural research centers (including the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza—CATIE).||Ex situ gene bank collections are put under the ITPGR (replaces agreement between IARCs and FAO).|
|2008||Establishment of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Svalbard, 26 February.||Long term conservation.|
|2009||12th Regular Session of the CGRFA, Rome, 19–23 October.||2nd report on the state of the world’s plant genetic resources .|
|36th Session of the FAO Conference, Rome, 18–23 November.||Resolution 18/2009.||Special nature of PGRs in the context of negotiations of the International Regime on Access and Benefit-Sharing of the CBD.|
|2010||International Technical FAO Conference on Agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries: Options and opportunities in crops, forestry, livestock, fisheries and agro-industry to face the challenges of food insecurity and climate change (ABDC-10), Guadalajara; Mexico, 1–4 March 2010.||Report .||Agricultural biotechnologies are being applied to an increasing extent,|
But they have not been widely used in many developing countries, and have not sufficiently benefited smallholder farmers and producers and consumers.
|10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Nagoya, Japan, 18–29 October.||Decision X/1: Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (entered into force on 12 October 2014).||Establishing more predictable conditions for access to genetic resources,|
helping to ensure benefit-sharing when genetic resources
leave the country providing the genetic resources
Also covers traditional knowledge, associated with genetic resources.
|Decision X/2: II Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, for the 2011–2020 period.||Recognition that the objectives of the 1st Strategic Plan were not achieved|
Establishment of twenty headline Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2015 or 2020, organized under five strategic goals.
|2011||13th Regular Session of the CGRFA, Rome, 18–22 July 2011.||Background paper CGRFA-13/11/3 Status and trends of biotechnologies applied to the conservation and utilization of genetic resources for food and agriculture and matters relevant for their future development.||Biotechnologies largely used for conservation and use of PGRs|
Many developing countries miss capacities.
|143rd Session of the FAO Council, Rome, 28 November–2 December.||Second global plan of action for the conservation and sustainable utilization of PGRs.||Need for a roadmap on climate change and genetic resources for food and agriculture.|
|2012||United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as Rio 2012, Rio+20, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 13–22 June.||Outcome document The Future We Want.||Necessity to promote, enhance and support more sustainable agriculture […] that improves food security, eradicates hunger and is economically viable, while conserving land, water, plant and animal genetic resources, biodiversity and ecosystems and enhancing resilience to climate change and natural disasters.|
|2013||14th Regular Session of the CGRFA, Rome, 15–19 April.||Programme of work on climate change and genetic resources for food and agriculture.||Importance of genetic resources for food and agriculture for coping with climate change.|
|2015||International Symposium on Forest Biotechnology for Smallholders, Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, Brazil, 19–22 May 2015.||Background paper .||Biotechnologies largely used for both planted and naturally regenerated forests.|
|39th Session of the FAO Conference, Rome, 6–13 June.||Approval of the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Integration of Genetic Diversity into National Climate Change Adaptation Planning.||Importance of genetic resources for food and agriculture for coping with climate change.|
|2016||FAO International Symposium on The role of agricultural biotechnologies in sustainable food systems and nutrition, Rome, 15–17 February.||Proceedings.||Biotechnologies can be used in production systems, based on agroecological principles, to enhance productivity while ensuring sustainability, conservation of genetic resources and use of indigenous knowledge.|
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