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Collaboration between the Treaty and relevant international instruments and organizations came into the spotlight as the Governing Body worked through its agenda, including enhancing the Treaty’s Multilateral System of access and benefit-sharing, farmers’ rights, and the impact of technological developments, including digital sequence information (DSI) on genetic resources.
Delegates discussed the way forward on enhancing the Treaty’s Multilateral System, with a focus on the key issues at the heart of debates: digital sequence information/genetic sequence data; expansion of the list of crops in Annex I of the Treaty; and the payment structure and rates for benefit-sharing.
Meeting at a crucial moment for the future of the Treaty, parties relaunched negotiations on measures to enhance the functioning of the Treaty’s Multilateral System of access and benefit-sharing. Parties further addressed farmers’ rights and issues related to “digital sequence information/genetic sequence data” (data derived from genetic resources that is often shared freely online) that could undermine the benefit-sharing regime.
Delegates adopted the interim budget and called for all parties to contribute to the core budget to ensure all Treaty operations continue until the ninth session of the Governing Body can convene in 2022.
Parties to the Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture met to address a range of policy, implementation, cooperation, and administrative matters of relevance to the Treaty and its Multilateral System (MLS) of access and benefit-sharing, but they were unable to adopt a package of measures to enhance the functioning of the MLS.
The Working Group was unable to bridge positions between the developed and the developing world. Deep principled divergences remained, in particular on benefit-sharing payments from use of genetic sequence data. Co-Chairs Hans Hoogeveen (Netherlands) and Javad Mozafari (Iran) will hold informal consultations immediately prior to the Governing Body (GB) session to be held from 11-16 November 2019 in a final attempt to reach consensus.
The eighth meeting of the Working Group did not achieve any concrete outcomes in relation to specific clauses in the SMTA. In addition, questions related to digital sequence information (DSI) and a possible expansion of the MLS remain deeply divisive. However, several participants welcomed the constructive spirit and open discussion that provided opportunities for mutual learning and clear procedural steps allowing for informed deliberations at its next meeting in June 2019.