Information note on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) (link)

April 3, 2003

Brussels, 02 Apr 2003

Full text of Document 7850/03
Suite of documents 7850/03

Subject: International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA)
- FAO Expert Group responsible for framing recommendations on the terms of the standard material transfer agreement provided for in Article 12(4) of the ITPGRFA
- Other matters relating to the ITPGRFA


1. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (hereinafter referred to as the "ITPGRFA") is intended to protect and safeguard those varieties of food and fodder plants of which the genetic material is considered to be essential for maintaining food security for the world's population. To that end, the parties to the ITPGRFA have undertaken to promote the exchange of plant genetic material and related information, and to ensure equitable sharing of the ensuing benefits.

2. In order to achieve the above objectives, the ITPGRFA provides for the establishment of a "multilateral system" 1 to facilitate the transfer of plant genetic material by means of a standard material transfer agreement containing the technical and financial conditions for access to plant genetic material and any transfer of such material 2.


3. When the ITPGRFA was adopted in November 2001, the 31st FAO Conference decided to establish an expert group responsible for framing and proposing recommendations on the terms of the above standard material transfer agreement (MTA) for examination by the ITPGRFA Interim Committee and possible adoption at the first meeting of its governing body.

4. The terms of reference for the MTA Expert Group were adopted at the first meeting of the ITPGRFA Interim Committee held in Rome in October 2002. On that occasion, the Interim Committee also established the Expert Group's composition, arrangements for appointing members and work timetable.

5. The MTA Expert Group will be composed of 24 experts in the strict sense and 24 advisers, appointed by their respective governments. To ensure the appropriate geographical balance, all FAO regions will appoint four persons for each category, except for the North American and Southwest Pacific regions, for which the number will be limited to two persons per category. Furthermore, the CGIAR 3 will be requested to designate a representative to participate in the work in a technical capacity, and the WIPO 4 and UPOV 5 could, at the request of the Expert Group, do likewise.

6. At the Interim Committee meeting in October 2002, regions were asked to appoint their experts and advisers before the end of 2002. Subsequently, the MTA Expert Group will meet only once - probably in the first half of 2003 - before reporting on its work at the next Interim Committee meeting, which could then decide to organise further meetings of the Group.


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