23 April 2001
276 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from 56 countries call on
negotiators to endorse an agreement that will keep open access for all to the
seeds of the worlds most important crops, unrestricted by patents and
intellectual property rights.
Next week (23-28 April 2001) in Spoleto, Italy, negotiations on the revised
FAO International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources will continue. The
outcome of the 41 countries deliberations will decide the fate of
billions of people who currently depend on freely exchanged farmers
seeds. These seeds provide the diversity of food for the world. Unless free
access is guaranteed the worlds ability to ensure food security will be
Failure to achieve agreement will lead to a rapid reduction in the exchange
of plant breeding stocks between countries and institutions and amongst farmers
themselves. Agricultural research and the future of a half million seed samples
of 30 food crops will also be threatened. Farmers Rights freely to save,
exchange, and sell seeds will be denied.
The worlds seeds will increasingly fall into the hands of
multinational corporations who, protected by patents and intellectual property
rights, will decide what and whether people will eat.
If negotiations succeed the International Undertaking will be agreed by the
Conference of the FAO in November 2001 and will become legally binding.
CSOs and their networks are closely watching the outcome: increased public
attention is being brought to bear on these negotiations. CSOs have insisted in
their letter that the negotiators must not fail and have said to them:
Time is running out but an agreement, supported by a majority of
countries, is within your grasp
Global food security and the livelihoods
of millions of rural households depend on your work in Spoleto: you must not
abdicate your responsibilities.
For further information from 23-28 April,
Contact CSO observers at the negotiations
Henk Hobbelink and Pat Mooney
at Hotel dei Duchi, Spoleto, Italy
Tel:+39 07 43 44 541; Fax:+39 07 43 44 543
Full text of the CSO letter and signatories and explanatory documents are
UK Agricultural Biodiversity Coalition
Berne Declaration www.evb.ch/bd/food.htm