Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA 16)

The sixteenth session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA 16) opened on Monday, 30 January 2017, at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) in Rome, Italy.

Delegates met in plenary to address cross-sectoral matters under the Commission’s Multi-Year Programme of Work (MYPOW), including the preparation of the report on the State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture (SOW-BFA); the role of genetic resources for food security; and access and benefit-sharing (ABS) for genetic resources for food and agriculture (GRFA). Delegates also agreed to establish an open-ended committee to discuss the Commission’s Strategic Plan 2018-2027 and elements to be included in the next version of the Commission’s MYPOW covering the same period.

During this session Cristina Grandi made two statements on behalf of IFOAM - Organics International.

The first, in reference to the draft  of "The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture" was as follows: 

"I thank the secretariat for the preparation of the draft "The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture", an important tool for policy makers.  We are though concerned that many countries have not yet submitted their reports.

We appreciate that a space has been dedicated in the text to organic farming and that its role in maintaining and increasing biodiversity has been highlighted.

Organic farmers, in turn, by not using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, are completely dependent on ecosystems and are very sensitive to their deterioration.

We believe it is urgent and necessary to take action at all levels to maintain biodiversity. The potential actions proposed in document 16/17/4 "biodiversity for food and agriculture needs and possible measures" are necessary but not sufficient.

We believe that in addition to the proposed measures, it should include the introduction of the polluter-pays principle and put an end to the perverse subsidies that promote agricultural practices harmful to biodiversity.  Producers using methods that conserve biodiversity should also be encouraged to continue doing so."

The second, in reference to the "Review of the Status and Trends of Seed Policies", was as follows:

"I  thank the secretariat for the Multi-Year Program of Work; complete, ambitious and in line with the objectives of Agenda 2030.

Among the activities proposed, I would like to highlight the "Review of the Status and Trends of Seed Policies" which we consider to be of vital importance for the achievement of the predefined goals and fundamental for safeguarding genetic resources.

Many of the national seed laws were designed (and continue to be designed) for intensive, large-scale agriculture. Laws that are, in fact, one of the causes of the biodiversity reduction. In addition, we are experiencing a moment of great concentration in the seed sector. 

To counteract these trends and achieve the objectives of Agenda 2030, it is necessary that seed laws:

  • allow a balance between intellectual property rights and farmers' rights 
  • ensure and protect the rights of farmers to develop, exchange, sell and preserve seeds

This is why we consider the work of the commission on the "Review of the state and trends of seed policies" fundamental and necessary, and we make available our experience on the subject and in particular research work carried out in Africa and Europe, by member organizations of IFOAM - Organics International, in collaboration with universities and research centres in Africa and Europe."

You can learn more about the session here. 


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