Pact on agricultural biodiversity gains 19 new adherents, UN reports

12 June 2002 –

Representatives of 19 countries attending the World Food Summit in Rome have signed a treaty that aims to protect genetic resources for food and agriculture, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which organized the conference, announced today.

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture now has 45 signatory countries, plus the European Community. Canada, Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, India, Jordan and the Sudan have all ratified the pact, which requires ratification by 40 countries to enter into force.

Genetic resources for food and agriculture are essential in the development of sustainable agriculture and food security, according to FAO, which estimates that throughout history 10,000 species have been used for human food and agriculture, while today only about 150 plant species make up the diets of the majority of the world’s people.

The treaty will provide incentives to continue conserving and developing genetic resources, which FAO warns are being lost at an alarming rate. Covering all plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, the treaty establishes a multilateral system for access and benefit sharing for 64 major crops and forages important for global food security. Together these provide around 80 per cent of the world’s energy intake.

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