The ministers expressed their conviction that the Treaty is vital to achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals -- particularly eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and guaranteeing environmental sustainability. They also pledged to enhance national capacities for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources.
The Madrid meeting of the Ministerial Segment of the Treaty's governing bodies, chaired by Elena Espinosa, Spain's Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, was attended by over 70 countries, a fact which sent a powerful political message in support of the Treaty, according to FAO. This was the first ever meeting of the Treaty's governing body.
A fundamental instrument to combat hunger
In a speech made at the event, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf urged countries to muster the political will needed to guarantee the Treaty's ongoing implementation, describing the international accord as "a fundamental tool in humanity's efforts to do away with hunger and malnutrition."
"We must reaffirm our political will to work for the benefit of present and future generations as well as our commitment to do everything possible to ensure that the Treaty is fully and comprehensively implemented," said Diouf pointing to the challenge of feeding a growing world population that will reach 9 billion people by 2050.
FAO's Director-General provided a number of examples of progress made thanks to the Treaty:
- it has reversed a trend towards reduced international sharing of plant genetic resources observed in recent years;
- it enables developing countries to conserve and make better use of their own plant genetic resources as well as those they obtain internationally;
- it has served to raise awareness of farmers’ rights and the central role they play in the conservation and use of genetic resources;
- it lays down a solid foundation for enhanced international agricultural research.
Diouf emphazised that all countries are interdependent in terms of plant genetic resources. FAO calculates that the average level of country interdependency for plant genetic resources is 70%, meaning that all countries depend significantly on the genetic diversity of crops in other countries in order to be able to guarantee the food security of their own populations.
The Treaty will also bring benefits to farmers by giving them access to new varieties more resistant to pests, diseases and environmental stresses. At the same time, scientists, international research centres, government agencies and the private sector will all benefit from greater access to genetic diversity.
Information Officer, FAO
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Information Officer, FAO
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