Session 2: History and Development of Law and Policy, Related to Plant Genetic Resources and the FAO Global System

Historically, PGRFA have been freely exchanged and this has been instrumental in the development and improvement of crops. These patterns of use and their importance are reflected in the concept of the common heritage of mankind in the International Undertaking. The relatively recent development of privately held intellectual property rights over PGRFA (Plant Breeders’ Rights and  Patents, which reward formal innovators) has stimulated the development of the concept of national sovereignty, which underscores the rights of countries to control access to genetic resources within their boundaries (as encapsulated in the Convention on Biological Diversity [CBD]), and Farmers’ Rights, which seek to reward farmers’ efforts in developing PGRFA over the centuries.

There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence that when it has been implemented through bilaterally agreed upon access arrangements, the CBD has contributed to slowing down exchanges of PGRFA, with a negative result on research and conservation efforts. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (‘the Treaty’) provides a remedy to this situation by providing for a multilateral system of access and benefit sharing to a list of crops and forages. This session sets the stage for the module by explaining the historical factors and interplay of interests that have shaped the development of international law and policy relating to PGRFA and the main contributions of the FAO Global System.

Training materials for session 2 include lecture notes, a PowerPoint presentation and an exercise. This exercise aims to identify and discuss the factors that have shaped the development of international law and policy relating to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

Additional handouts to enrich the training include a summary of overheads for each presentation, references to the full-text of relevant laws and policies and a bibliography for further reading.

Other materials for trainers include an overview with a complete list of handouts, workshop schedule, an evaluation form and Day 1 Instructions for Trainers with a timed schedule of activities and handouts. See also Information for Trainers , for a selection of templates, tips, and step-by-step guidelines for planning and delivering a successful training workshop.

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