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Sixth Extraordinary Session of the Commission
On Genetic Resources For Food And Agriculture

FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy; 25 - 30 June 2001


Update for Friday, 29 June:

Delegates met in an afternoon and an evening Plenary for a report on the progress of the negotiations. Committee of the Whole (COW) Chair Francis Montanaro Mifsud (Malta) presented the COW's report on institutional provisions and CGRFA Chair Gerbasi (Venezuela) presented his proposed compromise text on Articles 11-13. Delegates considered these texts article by article, as well as the use of terms, submitted by the informal working group. In the morning, informal consultations of the working group on Article 15 (ex situ collections), and the "Friends of the Chair" contact group took place, while a working group on the sessions' resolutions was established and met in the afternoon.

Plenary - Initial statements and debate on list of crops

The NETHERLANDS, on behalf of the EUROPEAN REGION expressed concern over the state of negotiations on the list of crops under the MS. He highlighted lack of progress, illustrated by the exclusion of soya bean, groundnut, tomato, and of the wild relatives of maize, wheat and potato, which are essential for breeding. He noted some regions' wish to exclude from the list any crops or wild relatives for which their region is an important centre of origin.
ETHIOPIA, on behalf of the AFRICAN GROUP stressed that developing countries are expected to make their resources available bearing additional burden and receiving fairly negligible benefits. He underscored that resolution of negotiations on the list of crops depends on resolution of other issues as well.

VENEZUELA, on behalf of GRULAC, said their region is willing to include important species for food security, will consider each crop separately, and for some crops different species; however, technically there is no reason to include all crops.

CHINA drew attention to the specific situation of soya bean.
Brazil called for a holistic view of the task at hand, and said he wanted the same language use in provisions for access as for those regarding benefit-sharing.
SUDAN, on behalf of NEAR EAST said they would defend the interests of developing countries.
CUBA, on behalf of G77/China, said they have shown willingness to resolve issues, and would continue to do so in a spirit of good will and in the interest of food security.

JAMAICA stated that his government was against "littering this agreement with the words 'by consensus'", fearing that too many requirement for consensus would make the agreement unworkable.
Plenary - Report of the COW

COW Chair Francis Montanaro Mifsud (Malta) presented the Committee's work. He said
the COW had completed reviewing Articles 19-32 on institutional and legal aspects, and noted
outstanding issues related to: the use of consensus only or a two-thirds majority vote as a last
resort at decision making; and issues linked to the pending decision on the IU's legal basis, either
as an FAO Article XIV subsidiary body or otherwise.

Above and below, from left to right: Jose Esquinas-Alcazar, CGRFA Secretary; Fernando Gerbasi (Venezuela), Chair of the CGRFA; and Chair Francis Montanaro Mifsud (Malta), Chair of the COW.

Plenary - Debate on amendments, Articles 19.2(h) and (i)

Ethiopia stated that the insistence on consensus amounted to ensuring a right of veto, and said that if there is to be a veto on anything relating to benefits, then there must also be the same right regarding access of r the providers of genetic resources. "I am saying this very seriously... if the system we are creating is not good to all of us, we don't want it."

In the corridors...

10:15 pm, in the Nordic Lounge just outside the Red Room where Plenary was still meeting: participants catching a break, and a bite to eat, when and where they can.

Side-event - farmer's rights

More than 80 delegates and FAO staff attended an NGO lunchtime meeting, hosted by IATP and chaired by ITDG, entitled "[in the form] received": implications of Global IPR systems at the farm level"

Keynote speaker Percy Schmeiser (on the left) is a Canadian farmer who is the victim of Monsanto's contamination of his fields and crops by roundup-ready canola (oil seed rape) plants planted in adjacent fields. This modified canola has spread involuntarily into his fields, but Monsanto claim that they own his crops because their intellectual property is contained in them. As a consequence, they claim his crop and all profits from it. He is appealing a decision by the Canadian courts that he is guilty of patent infringement. The discussion raised important issues of direct relevance to the IU negotiations and Farmers' Rights.

Patrick Mulvany, ITDG, updated delegates on the NGO's perspective of the progress of the IU negotiations, summarised in Friday's pessimistic press release circulated to delegates. He urged delegates to negotiate constructively to achieve a just, equitable and comprehensive IU. He emphasised the importance of these negotiations and the wider programme of work on agricultural biodiversity, managed by FAO, to food security and livelihoods.

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