Fourth Intersessional Meeting of the Contact Group of the Commission
on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA)
The Fourth Inter-sessional Contact Group Meeting on the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources (IU), in Harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, was held in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, from 12-17 November 2000. Approximately 100 participants from 37 countries, one regional economic integration unit, four intergovernmental and two non-governmental observer organizations attended the meeting. Delegates continued negotiations on the Composite Draft Text, specifically on Articles 12 (Coverage of the Multilateral System), 14 (Benefit-sharing), 16 (Financial Resources), 17 (Governing Body) and Annex V (Conditions For Participation of International Institutions in the Multilateral System and Placing of International Ex Situ Collections in the Multilateral System). Delegates also heard presentations from the World Trade Organization and the Future Harvest Centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
Many delegates noted the slow pace of the meeting, which only dealt with two or three articles in significant depth, despite a much broader initial agenda. A large portion of the meeting was devoted to Article 16, where delegates agreed on most of its provisions. Several delegates thought that discussions on Article 14.2(d)(iv) on benefit-sharing from commercialized plant genetic resources for food and agriculture from the Multilateral System represented a step backward as the tentative understanding reached in Tehran at the third Contact Group meeting was re-opened and left unresolved. Finally, Articles 12 and 17 were addressed only briefly. Such slow progress called into question a scheduled extraordinary session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture for late January 2001, which was intended to complete and adopt the revised IU. The next steps remain unclear and await consideration by the FAO Council, which meets in Rome from 20-25 November 2000.