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Press Release 01/91 C13

FAO CONFERENCE ENDS 31st SESSION

FAO'S BUDGET INCREASES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN EIGHT YEARS

Conference approves an international treaty on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and makes progress on revised code of conduct on pesticides


Rome, 14 November 2001.- The governing Conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) ended its 31st Session yesterday, after agriculture ministers and senior officials voted a budget totalling US$651.8 million for 2002-2003 - a nominal increase of US$1.8 million over the previous biennium and the first increase in eight years. The Conference also authorized the use of additional amounts up to US$50 million from the US$95 million expected during the next two years in the form of payments of arrears by the major contributor.

At the same time, the Conference approved a new scale of contributions which included a reduction of the ceiling of the contributions of FAO's Member States for the period 2002-2003, a decision based on the new scale of contributions adopted by the UN General Assembly. Under the new scale, no country should pay more than 22 percent of the FAO budget, down from 25 percent.

A major success of the Conference was the approval of an International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture intended to ensure access to plant genetic diversity while taking into consideration the needs of farmers and plant breeders. The treaty is considered a major step towards guaranteeing the future availability of the diversity of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture on which farmers and breeders depend, as well as a fair and equitable sharing of benefits.

Progress was also made on the revision of the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of pesticides which should reflect more strongly health and environmental concerns. Member States supported the revised text except for a number of clauses dealing with intellectual property rights and data protection which will require further review.

Four new countries were admitted to FAO during this session, bringing the number of Member States to 183. The new Member States are the Principality of Monaco, the Republic of Nauru, the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Conference elected Mr. Aziz Mekouar of Morocco as Independent Chairman of the Council for the next two years. It also elected the Members of the Council which consists of 49 States and is the Organization's governing body between sessions of the Conference.

The Conference unanimously adopted the new FAO Plan of Action on Gender and Development (2002-2007) and indicated that its four priority areas (food and nutrition, natural resources, agricultural support systems and agricultural and rural development policy and planning) should be linked to health, hygiene, education, as well as to the problem of HIV/AIDS and youth.

During the Conference, a ministerial meeting on the experiences of foot-and-mouth disease discussed the repercussions of this year's devastating FMD outbreak in Europe and the impact of epidemic animal diseases on agriculture, trade and food security. FAO warned against the spread of transboundary diseases and called for a global plan to control epidemics.

At a meeting immediately preceding the Conference, the FAO Council decided by consensus that the World Food Summit: five years later, originally planned as part of this Conference, will now take place in Rome from 10 to 13 June 2002.

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For further information, please call FAO media relations office, tel.: 0039.06.57053625 or consult website: http://www.fao.org


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