The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was adopted by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in November 2001 and entered into force in June 2004. It currently has a membership of 146 State Contracting Parties.
The Treaty recognizes Farmers’ Rights, establishes a global system to provide farmers, plant breeders and scientists with access to plant genetic materials at standard conditions, including equitable benefit-sharing conditions, and facilitates the sharing of information on plant germplasm on a global basis.
Through the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-Sharing, the Treaty facilitates access to germplasm of 64 crops, as listed in the Annex to the Treaty, which different national and international institutions hold (e.g. in genebanks). The individuals or organizations who access samples of germplasm are to sign the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA). Through the SMTA, the recipients agree to use the materials for research, breeding and training for food and agriculture. They also commit to sharing the monetary and non-monetary benefits arising from use of the germplasm, including in the case of commercialization. The Treaty prevents the recipients of germplasm from claiming intellectual property rights over those resources in the form in which they received them, and ensures that access to genetic resources already protected by international property rights is consistent with international and national laws.
The Secretariat of the International Treaty is hosted by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome.
Role within INCREASE
FAO-ITPGRFA will contribute to data management by facilitating the exchange of germplasm with SMTAs under INCREASE and the assigning of digital object identifiers to the germplasm.
FAO will also collaborate on a digitalised process based on smart-contracts to assist with SMTAs, which end users will manage through a mobile application. The SMTA is a private contract with standard terms and conditions that ensures that the relevant provisions of the International Treaty are followed by individual providers and recipients of plant genetic material. The proposed smart-contract based system will assist users with: compiling, generating and digitally signing SMTAs in the six official languages of the International Treaty; reporting on SMTAs concluded in accordance with the instructions made by the Governing Body of the International Treaty. The proposed app combines SMTA generation and reporting functions and digital agreements and the user may decide to use the generation and reporting tools separately.
FAO will assist with the ethics requirements under the project, as they relate to the regulation of access and benefit-sharing (ABS) as applicable under the Multilateral System of the ITPGRFA. Project Partners will transfer of crop germplasm for research and breeding under SMTAs, without prejudice to any other applicable ABS requirements.