FAO / CGRFA 13
13th Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, held in Rome, 18 - 22 July 2011
The news from FAO is dominated by the terrible famine in the Horn of Africa, which is very severely affecting about 1% of the world's hungry. This war torn situation was discussed on Monday 25 th July at the Ministerial meeting that, with some exceptions – notably Norway – repeated age-old commitments to ‘never let this happen again!' (details here ). Spirited contributions were made by Barbara Stocking, Oxfam GB, and the IFAD President, bringing perspectives from his recent East Asian visits to China and South Korea , said (somewhat belatedly) that “ Africa has the potential to feed not only itself but also the rest of the world ”. I posted a comment on this at www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/11775310 pointing out that this has been the rallying call of farmers' social movements for decades.
However, I would like to share with you briefly what my colleague Jon Ensor, other CSOs present and I did the previous week at FAO. (Links to my colleague Jon Ensor's great blog, some of our statements and selected papers, are pasted below and on www.ukabc.org/cgrfa13.htm)
We were at the meeting of the less prominent yet grandiosely titled “Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture” (CGRFA). The CGRFA, or ‘Commission', is an intergovernmental governance body of 173 states, held under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). The mandate of the Commission is primarily to prevent the loss of the genetic diversity of seeds, trees, livestock breeds and fish species, used to produce the world's food. This agricultural biodiversity provides the breadth of nutrition we need and the resilience of food production to threats such as climate change. The monocultural alternative of industrial production, promoted and controlled by those who capture and destroy this diversity, is a present danger.
I have participated in probably every session of the CGRFA since its inception in 1993, and while it has spawned the International Seed Treaty and numerous Plans of Action, progress is unbelievably slow and overwhelmingly focused on genes. The Commission has done little to stem the haemorrhage of the diversity of the world's precious seeds, trees, livestock breeds and aquatic species – the world's agricultural biodiversity – that small-scale food providers conserve and develop on their farms, in their pastures and in coastal and inland waters.
It is almost that the Commission's political ‘caesars', like latter day Neros, are happy to fiddle with genes while biodiversity burns.
Agricultural biodiversity is more than genes and much, much more than farm seeds – see comment here www.ukabc.org/agricultural-biodiversity-more-than-seeds25-10-2010_.pdf .
The main purpose of our being at the Commission meeting was to ensure delegates repeatedly heard the oft-made call for the inclusion of the views of the guardians of this genetic diversity – indeed all agricultural biodiversity – the women and men smallholder farmers, pastoralists, artisanal fishers, forest dwellers, indigenous peoples and other small-scale food providers, who have developed this diversity over millennia, whose rights should be defended and who should be supported to continue developing the diversity we need and providing the world's food.
Together with the etcGroup , and working with IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Movements), LPP (League for Pastoral Peoples) and the Global Forest Coalition, we held open the space for Civil Society in the Commission's future work.
We made interventions on: climate change highlighting the danger of privatising the very resources that would help adaptive capacity – the so-called ‘climate-ready' genes – and the need to prioritise adaptive; on-farm/ in situ conservation and development of seeds, livestock breeds and aquatic species; livestock diversity and defending the rights of livestock keepers; the resource-consuming focus on biotechnology and GMOs and ex situ seed storage; the long-term work of the Commission and its relations with the International Seed Treaty and other international bodies and instruments; and called for the Commission to take leadership in all intergovernmental processes related to its mandate, including civil society, and especially the social movements of small-scale food providers, in its deliberations in a process similar to that used in the CFS. There were 17 Side Events, for example on the Svaalbard Global Seed Vault and the role of organic farmers and livestock keepers in keeping agricultural biodiversity alive.
The final outcome was a lengthily and pedantically processed report of decisions, including agreement on a second Plan of Action on plant genetic resources (Leipzig 2), that barely inch forward the work of the Commission, still tightly under the control of governments unable to embrace the urgency to address the complexity of diverse (agro)ecosystems (preferring their reductionist gene technologies and ex situ collections), unwilling to open up to wider CFS-like inclusion of civil society organisations and seemingly unable to let go of control over funding they insist should be filtered by States to subsidise pet projects.
At the end of the meeting, at which we made a closing statement , the FAO's newly appointed Secretary to the Commission, Linda Collette, made a special point of saying she is keen to work with civil society organisations and social movements much more in coming years especially to help achieve the Commission's long-term goal of defending all agricultural biodiversity , something that will be aided by realising the CBD's Aichi Target 13.
This is one of the significant opportunities to influence the work of the Commission and the wider agenda, especially the Commission's long-term activity in its MYPOW to bring together the different ‘silos' of interest – plant, animal, forest, aquatic, microbial, invertebrate – under the single umbrella of ‘agricultural biodiversity' with its embedded ecosystem functions. In this w e urged the Commission to respect the biocultural heritage of the biodiversity-enhancing communities of small-scale food providers and ensure their rights are respected and fulfilled. We encouraged the Commission to examine the ‘State of the World's farmers' and other small-scale food providers, whose work underpins the purpose of the Commission.
We asked the Commission to help facilitate and subsequently welcome the inclusion of the views and perspectives of these guardians of agricultural biodiversity in the Commission's planned State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture.
Finally, we reminded the Commission that were they to respect the small-scale food providers' policy proposal of ‘food sovereignty' that would, if realised, achieve much of what the Commission seeks to accomplish.
The next meeting in 2013 will be presided over by this year's Rapporteur , Canada 's Brad Fraleigh…
Jon Ensor's blog on the week's events ‘Challenging the Mono-Cult' can be found here practicalaction.org/blog/climate_change/challenging-the-mono-cult/ .
The Commission requested 800 word submissions from International Organisations about relevant activities and these were abstracted into a Commission document here
Targets and Indicators for assessing status of agricultural biodiversity
Practical Action is a specialist international development NGO founded in 1966. We work on a range of technological issues with and in support of communities in developing countries, from regional offices in East Africa ( Nairobi ), Southern Africa ( Harare ), South America ( Lima ) and South Asia ( Colombo ). In addition there are national offices in Bangladesh , Nepal and Sudan . Our headquarters are in the UK .
We have worked on agricultural biodiversity issues for more than 20 years with the organisations of smallholder and peasant farmers, pastoralists, artisanal fisherfolk and other small-scale food providers, who, over countless generations, have developed, in situ , the agricultural biodiversity that feeds the world. The focus of our work has been to support and defend, through normative processes, practical projects and advocacy, their biodiverse, resilient, ecological production systems, which both generate and depend upon agricultural biodiversity and are an essential component of food sovereignty.
In support of normative work, we have been active participants in the work of the Commission (CGRFA) since its inception in 1993, and the development and implementation of the International Seed Treaty (IT PGRFA) including participation in the work of its Governing Body. We are principal participants in the Civil Society lobby – the CBD Alliance – on agricultural biodiversity at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and have contributed to the development of the joint CBD/FAO programme of work. We were one of the six NGO governing bureau members of the World Bank/UN sponsored International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). We participate in relevant Civil Society processes that defend agricultural biodiversity through national, regional and international networks including the UK Food Group and the UK Agricultural Biodiversity Coalition, the European Peasant Seed network “Let's Liberate Diversity”, the EuropAfrica project that works with the African farmers' regional networks, the More and Better network and the IPC for food sovereignty.
In our practical work there are many examples of our work with local communities in defence of agricultural biodiversity. We support Andean Alpaca keepers defending their high altitude, potato production systems, which sustain potato biodiversity in its centre of origin, through work that strengthens their livelihoods in the face of climate change. We have worked with pastoralist communities in Kenya to defend their livelihoods which depend on managing their diverse livestock breeds across very biodiverse semi-arid lands and their diverse sorghum varieties, which provide much of their grain. With coastal communities threatened by the incursion of industrial agriculture and fisheries in Sri Lanka we support their access to and management of biodiverse inland and coastal fisheries and help defend their highly biodiverse rice production systems. In Bangladesh we support local producers provide a wide range of vegetables in gardens which float on flood waters. In Zimbabwe we have supported pioneering work in defending crop biodiversity through seed fairs and other exchanges that increase the agricultural biodiversity maintained and developed by small-scale producers.
In our advocacy work we have focused on promoting biodiverse systems that will secure future food. These depend on increasing of agricultural biodiversity in ecological food provision. This is an essential component in production systems that support the realisation of food sovereignty, which will defend the local food systems that currently provide food for most people in the world and could efficiently do so forever.
These systems face multiple threats, however, in terms of access to the resources needed for production including genetic resources for food and agriculture (GRFA) because of laws, intellectual property rights, commercial contracts, and technologies that restrict access and facilitate monopoly control over these essential genetic resources. In the MYPOW, it must be a key task of the CGRFA to identify and remove these restrictions that reduce biodiversity and limit access for small-scale, biodiversity-defending, food providers.
These smaller-scale production systems are more resilient to many biosocial threats such as climate change and can better utilise and conserve resources such as land and water in the production system. They use fewer external inputs and produce fewer emissions of greenhouse gases than industrial production systems. They produce, in general, higher quality food. We have summarized these issues, based on our practical work and research, in several publications including Biodiverse Agriculture for a Changing Climate. Defending this model of production should be a core element in the MYPOW.
We would support the proposal to include in the MYPOW the preparation of a State of the World's Agricultural Biodiversity, in all its dimensions. We would advocate that this should be based on the experience and perspective of those who sustain and develop the world's agricultural biodiversity – the small-scale food providers themselves. Using an inclusive process similar to that adopted by the Committee on world Food Security (CFS) would facilitate their inclusion in the preparation of the necessary inputs for the document and its follow up plan of action.
CLOSING STATEMENT to CGRFA 13 by Civil Society Organisations
Statement made by Patrick Mulvany, Practical Action
Thank you Chair for allowing me to make a brief statement on behalf of CSOs who have been present here at CGRFA 13 and many more worldwide who are following the progress of your work.
Can I also thank you for your sympathetic chairing, allowing us to make our views known to the Commission. Our statements are available online at ukabc.org/cgrfa13.htm .
Chair, we recognise the significant challenge the Commission has in creating the governance structures that will stem the haemorrhage, and prevent the contamination, of GRFA, an essential component of agricultural biodiversity, developed by countless small-scale food farmers, pastoralists, fishers, forest dwellers, indigenous peoples and others who provide most of the food in the world today and could do so forever. Their livelihoods are increasingly threatened and, as we reported to the GB4/IT PGRFA, we believe you should call for a report on the ‘State of the World's Farmers' (and other small-scale food providers). Their “cross-sectoral” activities, for example in rice/fish production systems, or in marine fisheries, which contain thousands of aquatic and other species, require an integrated ecosystem approach. This underscores the importance of bringing the views and participation of small-scale farmer and fisher organisations and local communities in the preparation of the SoW AqGR.
We call on the Commission to respect their policy proposal of ‘food sovereignty' that, if realised, would achieve much of what the Commission seeks to accomplish.
We would like you to take note of our concern on four issues that, among others, we believe still require your urgent attention and action.
Local conservation, use and development of GRFA : We urge you to ensure the highest priority is given to protecting and supporting the cross-sectoral efforts of small-scale food providers in their conservation, use and development of GRFA and ensuring their access to the genetic, financial and other resources they need. Furthermore, we urge you to respect the biocultural heritage of these biodiversity-enhancing communities and ensure their rights are respected and fulfilled. We hope you will help facilitate and will subsequently welcome the inclusion of their views and perspectives on the SoW biodiversity for food and agriculture.
Climate change : A broad range of GRFA and its associated ecosystem functions are essential to increase resilience in food production systems in the face of climate change and other threats. In light of this we would urge you to call for a comprehensive analysis of the potential impact of climate change “response measures” on GRFA that are being pushed in other forums. We would also call on you to investigate the broad patent claims for so-called climate-ready crops, at least 261 of which are being submitted to patent offices around the world, and the potential impact of these for access by famers to the diverse PGRFA necessary to adapt to climate change.
Svaalbard, GCDT and the International Treaty and CGIAR : We urge you to keep detailed oversight of the relationship between the CGRFA, the IT PGRFA, GCDT and the Global Seed Vault and, inter alia, ensure depositor sovereignty over stored accessions in the Vault. Furthermore, as provided in Article 6 of the 1994 Memorandum of Understanding between the FAO and the CGIAR, that you ensure the CGIAR consults with the FAO and the Commission on proposed policy changes related to the conservation of, or accessibility to, the designated germplasm in all its centres, in view of the serious concerns on the potential implications of the changes in the CGIAR's IPR policy on the conservation, development and access to ex situ germplasm. We also call on you to exercise leadership in ensuring the CGIAR's work on GRFA focuses on the priorities you have identified, especially with regard to the in situ conservation, use and development of all GRFA and its associated ecosystem functions.
Inclusion and participation by CSOs : We would urge you to consider using the successful model for engaging with Civil Society that has been adopted by the CFS and welcomed by FAO Members. Without effective inclusion of CSOs, the Commission will not be able to achieve its objectives. We believe that the Commission's work would be enhanced by internalising the CFS approach, which provides an excellent model to achieve the inclusive participation by civil society including the representatives of the social movements of small-scale food providers.
Chair, the world needs the leadership that the Commission is giving in all forums across the UN system and beyond – to ensure that the conservation and sustainable use of all biodiversity for food and agriculture and its associated ecosystem functions are defended in all processes; and that those who use and develop this agricultural biodiversity, the small-scale food providers themselves, are also protected and are able to continue their vital work, and can truly benefit from the instruments you govern and oversee.
In conclusion, Chair, through you, we would like to express our thanks to the Secretariat for facilitating our participation and providing such an excellent range of information and background papers.
Statement of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group)
Agenda Item: Cooperation of the Commission with other Intergovernmental Instruments and Organizations
21 July 2011, AM session
Relationship with the ITPGRFA, Svalbard Global Seed Vault and GCDT
The ETC Group would like to reiterate the position presented by CSOs and farmers organizations attending as Observers at the ITPGRFA's GB-4 in Bali . We believe that the relationship between the CGRFA, the ITPGRFA, GCDT and the Global Seed Vault should be reviewed to ensure depositor sovereignty over stored accessions in the Vault. Funding policies for duplicating and transporting accessions to the Vault, namely through funds provided by the GCDT, should also be reviewed.
Relationship with the CBD and WIPO
We closely follow the rapid pace of meta-genomics research and notes the serious implications of current developments on the future of genetic resources conservation and utilization. It is already possible to map a human genome in approximately 10 days for $5000, some industry sources believe it will be possible within two years to map the genome of any species for a few hundred dollars in 15 minutes, and the new hyperspectral imaging technologies are making remote rapid biological diversity appraisal inexpensive. Already, so-called digital DNA genomes are being regularly uploaded to the Internet and that synthetic biology makes it practicable to download digital genome maps or gene sequences and, with gene synthesis machinery, construct artificial sequences circumventing SMTAs and any known capacity to prohibit biopiracy.
In view of these rapid developments that might make the Treaty and any access and benefit sharing agreements obsolete in the near future, CSOs propose that the CGRFA explore these implications on the conservation and utilization of genetic resources for food and agriculture.
Relationship with the UNFCCC and CBD and WIPO
In 2008, the ETC Group released its first report on the efforts of big agricultural transnational companies to monopolize genetically engineered, “climate ready” traits intended to withstand environmental (i.e., abiotic) stresses associated with climate change, such as drought, heat, cold, floods, saline soils, etc. A second report on patenting trends on “climate ready” traits was published by the ETC Group in October 2010. Between June 2008 and June 2010, the Gene Giants and their biotech partners submitted at least 261 “inventions” related to climate-ready crops to patent offices around the world seeking monopoly protection. Just six corporations (DuPont, BASF, Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow) and their biotech partners control 77% of the 261 patent families (both issued patents and applications).
Many of these patent claims are for so-called “climate-ready” gene sequences that are found in many or all agricultural species including all or most of the material covered under Annex I of the Treaty and some of these extend to the end-uses of plant material as food or feed. CSOs strongly propose to the Commission to review these patents and taking into account of their implications for national food security and food sovereignty, to consider either suspending or rejecting such patents or applications. It is further requested to the Commission to bring this issue to the attention of the legal office of FAO to consider whether or not these patents violate the ITPGRFA.
On Relationship with the CGIAR
As provided in Article 6 of the 1994 Memorandum of Understanding between the FAO and the CGIAR, it is the responsibility of the CGIAR to consult with the FAO and its Commission on proposed policy changes related to the conservation of, or accessibility to, the designated germplasm . The Centres are obliged to give full consideration to any policy changes proposed by the Commission.
In view of the recent changes in the intellectual property policy of specific Centres, such as IRRI and CIMMYT, and the recent development in the formulation of intellectual property policy for the CGIAR Consortium, we strongly urge the Commission to look at the implementation of the FAO agreement with the CGIAR Centres.
Agenda Item 8 - Relations with other international instruments and organisations
Statement by Patrick Mulvany, Practical Action
Thank you Chair
I would like to add to what we submitted to the CGRFA Secretariat and is abstracted in your document CGRFA/11/Inf.9.
Practical Action, an international development NGO, has worked for decades on agricultural biodiversity issues in normative processes of the FAO, CBD, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), regional institutions and with the organisations of smallholder and peasant farmers, pastoralists, artisanal fisherfolk, forest dwellers, indigenous peoples and other small-scale food providers, who, over countless generations, have developed, in situ, on-farm, on the range, in lakes, rivers and coastal waters the agricultural biodiversity that feeds the world.
The biodiverse and resilient systems that will secure future food in the face of multiple threats, including climate change, are the systems of the small-scale food providers. These depend on increasing agricultural biodiversity in ecological food provision and on increasing the related ecosystem functions. Agricultural biodiversity is an essential component in production systems that support the realisation of food sovereignty, which will defend the local food systems that currently provide food for most people in the world and could efficiently do so forever.
These small-scale food providers, we believe, have the experience and perspective that should be part of your work and should be included in any reports you produce including the report on the state of the world's biodiversity for food and agriculture, as we mentioned yesterday. We believe that the Multi-Year Programme of Work (MYPOW) should explicitly include, in its milestone on the preparation of a report on the State of the World's Agricultural Biodiversity, in all its dimensions, the direct perspective of the small-scale food providers themselves.
Furthermore, we think that the process that is being developed in the Committee on world Food Security (CFS) for the inclusion of the voices of the those small-scale food providers and their social movements – the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) – which has been agreed by Members of FAO and has been said by many to be the model that should be adopted in other parts of the FAO system should also be included as your mode of operation in this Commission.
Mr Chair, I just want to emphasise that by having an organised way of being able to interact with Civil Society including the social movements of those who defend and develop agricultural biodiversity, your work will be enhanced. The CSM provides a guide as to how best this could be done.
Thank you Chair
Agenda Item 6.2 Review of the MYPOW
Statement by Practical Action
Thank you Chair for the opportunity to speak to this item, in particular in relation to CGRFA-13/11/20 paras 28 - 31 and 53: The State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture . It has been discussed among a wide range of Civil Society Organisations whose views have informed this statement, which is also based on what we said in our collective final statement to the Commission at your 12 th session.
We welcome the development of the MYPOW towards covering more cross-sectoral issues especially in relation to sustaining and improving the broad range of agricultural biodiversity, at all dimensions, levels and scales, and its related ecosystem functions. This ecosystem approach to the work of the Commission is timely and a very important contribution to global governance of both agriculture and the environment.
For small-scale farmers, pastoralists, fishers, indigenous peoples and other small-scale food providers, their interaction with biodiversity is not sectoral – they deal with all the biodiversity in their human managed environment – plant, animal, soil, aquatic. This agricultural biodiversity is not only described at genetic, species and ecosystem levels but it also includes social, cultural, economic and political dimensions, which affect their lives, the availability of food and the environment which they maintain.
We welcome the ideas presented in document CGRFA-13/11/Inf.23, which describes a process that is leading towards the publication of a report on The State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture - a global UN assessment that is intended as a major contribution to the UN Decade on Biodiversity. Ensuring that this includes the views and priorities of biodiversity-enhancing, small-scale food providers themselves is a challenge that we anticipate the Commission will wish to pursue.
We anticipate that the report will be developed in an open and transparent way with full participation by CSOs, including the organisations of small-scale farmers, pastoralists, fishers, forest dwellers, indigenous peoples and other small-scale food providers, who are the main custodians, users and developers of agricultural biodiversity and its GRFA. We would hope that this will be developed in a process that is in line with our CSO interactions with the reformed Committee on world Food Security in the Civil Society Mechanism, approved by FAO Members, and intended to be adopted in all normative processes of FAO. In relation to this, we would like to draw to your attention the information document CGRFA-13/11/Inf.10 - Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the International Climate Change Policy Agenda which in para 98 summarises a process that we believe would help Members of the Commission understand better the benefits of engaging purposively with Civil Society's own self-organising and independent processes.
"98. The Commission has a potential role to play in advocating and ensuring that climate change
policies involving GRFA incorporate the insights and proposals of those they are intended to support.
Farmers, livestock keepers, fisher people and forest dwellers offer enormous adaptive capacity – but
their efforts must be recognized and supported at all levels. Climate change adaptation and mitigation
measures involving GRFA must be designed and undertaken in a participatory process involving all
stakeholders, especially smallholder farmers, livestock keepers, fisher people and forest-dependent
people. The reformed CFS offers one example of the importance of including diverse and independent
voices and expertise. FAO has also taken important steps to facilitate the active participation of civil
society, including people's movements, through collaboration with the International Civil Society
Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty."
In recognition of this, we urge the Commission to ask the Secretariat to facilitate the inclusion, in the process for the preparation of the State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture , of the small-scale food providers themselves, so that, as a contribution to your comprehensive report, they can describe the state of their systems for the conservation, sustainable use, development and management of agricultural biodiversity and GRFA. This report on the State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture may well be one of the most important outputs of the MYPOW and a significant contribution to global understanding about status, trends, opportunities and necessary actions on this most vital issue – the conservation and sustainable use and development of agricultural biodiversity, its related ecosystem functions and its embedded GRFA. The Commission's leadership in this important process is most welcome.
We will be pleased to provide our collective views to the Secretariat by 15th November this year so that they can be included any documents prepared for your next session.
Agenda item 3.2: Review of cooperation with the International Treaty on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
Intervention by Patrick Mulvany, Practical Action
Thank you Chair
Many of the CSOs with whom we work on agricultural biodiversity issues discussed this cooperation in Bali at the 4 th Governing Body of the Treaty where we presented our joint view, which I will summarise here, for the benefit of the Commission.
The Commission (CGRFA) accepted its expanded mandate to cover all Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in 1993 with an initial focus on renegotiating the International Undertaking (IU) in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). We will not forget that this Commission is the mother of the Treaty but this does not mean it should hand over everything to its daughter.
The agreed role of the Commission is to take leadership in all aspects of Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GRFA) / Agricultural Biodiversity / all biodiversity for food and agriculture. Increasingly it is considering this in terms of the inter-relationships of all components of agricultural biodiversity and its ecosystem functions that are essential to secure future food, especially in the face of multiple threats including climate change. As you demonstrated in the previous item on ABS, you are giving leadership on this issue across all GRFA. You have the opportunity in the ABS negotiations to ensure that both monetary and non-monetary benefits are realised in every sector at the local level – to enhance the opportunities for biodiversity-enhancing small-scale food providers to be able to continue to conserve, use and develop agricultural biodiversity in situ, on-farm, on the range, in lakes, rivers and coastal waters.
Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) are just one part of GRFA – Annex 1 even less!
The Commission takes leadership on a broad range of PGRFA issues in the FAO system beyond that which the Treaty has capacity for. These include the rolling Global Plan of Action, developing Codes of Conduct and Standards on several issues concerning GRFA, including biotechnology. Its scope is broad and its comprehensive plans are summarised in a MultiYear Programme of Work (MYPOW), which also includes its contributions to the joint Programme of Work on Agricultural Biodiversity with the Convention on Biological Diversity leading towards the comprehensive report on the State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, which we anticipate will be developed in an open and transparent way with full participation by CSOs, including the organisations of small-scale farmers, pastoralists, fishers, indigenous peoples and other small-scale food providers, who are the main custodians, users and developers of agricultural biodiversity, in a process that is in line with the reformed CFS. This needs coherent management of all GRFA in one body – the Commission.
We believe it is essential to build on the existing synergy between the Treaty and Commission and not clutter the already overburdened Treaty with PGRFA issues that are better managed by the Commission.
So, we support Brazil, African Region and many others for Option 1 - to enhance the on-going cooperation framework, avoiding duplication, recognising that the Commission's greater membership – now 173 members - and its privileged links within FAO structures gives it an especially important oversight function.
We look forward to continue our Civil Society cooperation with both the Commission and the Treaty that has oversight of all GRFA, including PGRFA, recognising both bodies' separate roles and competences.
This important Commission has a key role as does the Treaty. The Global Governance of agricultural biodiversity, including PGRFA, so essential for the future of people and the planet, needs both. Thank you.
THE CGRFA paper concludes:
" There are various options the Commission may wish to consider with regard to its future
Jonathan Ensor, Practical Action (CGRFA 13. Agenda Item 2.2)
Mr Chair, thank you for the opportunity to address this important session of the Commission. I would first like to offer congratulations to the new Secretary, Linda Collette, on behalf of Practical Action and a wide group of civil society organizations that support the work of the Commission.
The Commission has before it a comprehensive agenda covering all aspects of genetic resources for food and agriculture – itself an essential component of agricultural biodiversity and related ecosystem functions – in which the leadership of the Commission needs to be asserted with regard to other bodies and processes, including the International Treaty, the Committee on world Food Security (CFS) and the Rio Conventions (CBD, UNFCCC, UNCCD, Rio+20/CSD).
With regard to this item 2.2. on Climate Change and genetic resources for food and agriculture we welcome and support the conclusions of the scoping study. We also have two points that we and some other NGOs here at this Commission (especially the Global Forest Coalition) would like to raise:
1 - We support an analysis of the links between climate change and genetic resources that considers the potential impact of climate change on genetic resources, and the potential role of genetic resources for food and agriculture in climate change mitigation and adaptation policies.
But we would also emphasise that a comprehensive analysis needs to consider the potential impact of climate change response measures on genetic resources. We refer in this respect to the recent submission of the FAO to the 34th session of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which highlights the potential impacts of certain response measures on food and agriculture.
We would also highlight that this analysis should be rooted in the views and experiences of small-scale food providers – farmers, pastoralists, fishers, forest dwellers, indigenous peoples and other small-scale food providers, who are the users, guardians and developers of genetic resources for food and agriculture, and are on the frontline in adapting to the impacts of climate change. Moreover, we note that it is these communities whose capacities need to be relied on and built, rather than undermined through further privatisation of GRFA and the diversion of valuable financial resources to biotechnological technical fixes that contaminate their production systems.
2 - We feel it is important that FAO in general, and the Commission in particular, continues to take the lead in analyzing the linkages between climate change, agriculture and genetic resources for food and agriculture. Genetic resources for food and agriculture have many social, environmental and economic aspects, and it is important that policies that address the links between climate change and genetic resources take a holistic view, in line with the ecosystem approach.
While the Commission can provide advice to the UNFCCC itself, it is important that the Commission continues to provide direct advice to countries themselves about:
With regard to this issue, as well as the others on your packed agenda, we support the Africa group and urge the Commission to ensure that the views of the guardians and developers of genetic resources for food and agriculture, the small-scale food providers themselves, are included in your deliberations. We would like to return to this issue later in the week in the discussion about the preparation of the State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture.
Chair, biodiverse, ecological, resilient small-scale food production is part of the solution to securing future food in the face of the challenges of the climate and other crises. (We have a publication on this that we will give to you afterwards.) We urge the Commission to continue to take leadership on this issue in all its dimensions.
12th Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
Statement by NGOs
Thank you for this opportunity to make a few closing remarks…
I am speaking on behalf of the NGOs that have participated in this 12 th Meeting of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. LPP, LIFE network, PracticalAction, SEARICE
We would also like to thank you and the Secretariat for the enabling our full participation in this meeting.
As the Commission meeting draws to a close, allow us a brief moment to remember the representatives of farmers, pastoralists and fishers who, over the years, have repeatedly called for due attention to their contribution to agricultural biodiversity and food sovereignty. They always hope that their efforts are not to be forgotten or stitched within the language of diplomacy, but enriched by future generation of food providers. They are always calling on all of us to address hindering factors such as market prices, policies and laws that prevent them from developing diversity and living decent lives. For example, many of you will recall Tay Gipo, who delivered his message in Svalbard while Don Luis intervened in the 3 rd Governing Body Meeting of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Carthage , Tunisia . They were simple farmers, with a simple wish – recognize and support their work – but somehow, this seems difficult to realize, and their calls remain unheeded
While we appreciate the accomplishments of the Commission, they are still far from what Tay Gipo and Don Luis among many others have asked for, in terms of recognition and support. Civil society organizations present would like to highlight four key issues that must not be forgotten in its future work:
The central role of women and men small-scale farmers, pastoralists, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and local communities in in situ conservation, and managing diversity on-farm in pastoral grazing lands and in local aquatic and forest environments, is critical for securing food supplies in a changing climate. We call for their decisive participation and inclusion in decision making processes of the Commission, its committees and work programmes regarding agricultural biodiversity, especially genetic resources for food and agriculture.
Agricultural biodiversity is enhanced by ecological production systems and damaged by industrial crop, livestock and fisheries production. We therefore urge the Commission in its future work to build upon the findings of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), approved by 58 countries, which found it necessary to radically change production systems towards locally-managed biodiverse, agroecological systems in order secure future food supplies in an equitable and sustainable way.
Communities of small-scale farmers, pastoralists, fishers and other small-scale food providers, do not look at biodiversity in fragmented components or sectors (like the Multi Year Programme of Work (MYPOW) does), but at the synergy of each component in dynamic, changing systems. Thus conservation and sustainable use should not just be limited to component-specific actions but should look at conserving (and protecting) these dynamic systems, including social processes of exchanges within cultural norms. These systems are undermined by laws, policies, contracts and technologies that restrict access to and control over the agricultural biodiversity they need. Therefore we urge the Commission to include consideration of these issues in the MYPOW.
For small-scale farmers, pastoralists, fishers and other small-scale food providers, biodiversity is not only described at genetic, species and ecosystem levels but also includes social, cultural, economic and political dimensions, which affect their lives. In recognition of this, we urge the Secretariat to facilitate the preparation of a state of the world report by these small-scale food providers themselves, in which they can describe the state of their systems for the conservation, sustainable use, development and management of agricultural biodiversity. This would be an essential contribution to your proposed State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture.
Chair: Thanks again for allowing us to make this collective statement.
These are passionately felt views of millions of small-scale food providers worldwide. We do wish that the Commission will take these issues seriously to heart in your future meetings
Thank you very much.
League for Pastoral Peoples
Rome , 23 October 2009
COP10 will review the CBD programme of work on agricultural biodiversity. We have the following recommendations:
(1) Support Ecological Food Provision
At COP 10, Parties must focus on implementation, explicitly supporting the maintenance and development of small-scale, ecological food provision methods, in the framework of food sovereignty, that sustain agricultural biodiversity at all levels in situ, on-farm, in all regions. This means:
• supporting, through CBD decisions and implementation, the organisations of the small-scale food providers who maintain these systems;
• prioritising policies that promote, support and remove constraints to on-farm and in situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity through participatory decision-making processes, in order to enhance the conservation of plant and animal genetic resources, related components of biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems, and related ecosystem functions;
• protecting and supporting exemplar programmes of small-scale biodiverse food systems. While the Satoyama and GIAHS initiatives should be promoted in order to improve the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity, due care should be taken to ensure that these do not provide hidden subsidies to agricultural commodity producers, especially in industrialised countries;
• regulating, transforming or prohibiting any methods, processes or technologies (e.g. GURTs) that damage agricultural biodiversity and its related ecosystem functions;
• adopting the proposed strategic plan target on reducing excess nutrients (nutrient loading) and pesticides to non-detrimental levels for biodiversity, adopting suitable indicators and suggesting the ways and means to implement it.
(2) Defend small-scale food providers access to and control over resources
Parties must defend small-scale food providers' access not only to seeds, livestock breeds and aquatic species, that are not restricted in use by IPRs or technologies, nor contaminated by GMOs, but also to territory – land, water, forests and coastal marine resources – in which they practice biodiverse food provision. They are being expelled from their territory through land grabs (for example for agrofuels) or other pressures. Several Parties are contributing to this dispossession, ignoring the rights of small-scale food providers to land and land security. Parties must include language in the final COP decisions [currently bracketed] that safeguards “land security”.
(3) Evaluate impact of IPRs on limiting biodiversity use and development
Parties must insist that programmes of work on agricultural biodiversity include assessments of patent trends and the use of other intellectual property rights, including plant variety protection, over plant, animal, and microbial genetic resources, and propose mitigation of their impacts.
(4) Implement the findings of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD)
Approved by 58 governments, the findings of the IAASTD are highly relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity. Parties must incorporate, and commit to implement – as a priority – the 22 findings, especially those concerning the multi-functionality of agriculture and agroecological approaches built on local knowledge, particularly women's.
USC Canada : www.usc-canada.org
UK Agricultural Biodiversity Coalition: www.ukabc.org/cop10.htm
ETC Group: www.etcgroup.org