On Tuesday, 14 March, Working Group Co-Chairs Bert Visser (the Netherlands) and Javad Mozafari (Iran) opened the meeting, noting: the Working Group’s mandate to come to an agreement on a final package of a revised draft Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) text and additional recommendations to be submitted to the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA); and intersessional work done by several Friends of the Co-Chairs groups and the Standing Group of Legal Experts. Kent Nnadozie, ITPGRFA Secretary Ad-Interim, stressed the spirit of collaboration that has prevailed in the deliberations so far.
During morning and afternoon sessions, the Working Group discussed coverage of the Multilateral System (MLS) vis-à-vis the scope of the Treaty; and issues arising from the revised SMTA, with a focus on the subscription system. North America highlighted that the US has become the latest member of the Treaty.
On coverage of the MLS, discussion focused on the approach and necessary conditions to expand coverage; and the legal mechanism to be used, namely an amendment or a protocol to the Treaty. Discussion on the approach to expand coverage addressed, among other issues, whether to expand it to “all” plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), and the definition of PGRFA, including in relation to crop wild relatives. On the legal mechanism, there was general agreement that any expansion should be done in the easiest and most effective way, with many identifying the need for better understanding the arguments for and against both options.
The Working Group then initiated deliberations on the revised SMTA. Delegates heard reports from Friends of the Co-Chairs groups on access mechanisms and payment rates, and the termination clause; and discussed questions with the Standing Group of Legal Experts, including on the compatibility of the subscription system and advance payments with the Treaty text.
An informal evening session held discussions on expanding MLS coverage.