FAO Hosts World Seed Conference

The role of new plant varieties and high quality seed
03/07/2009 FAO will be the host of the second the 2nd World Seed Conference whose theme is “Responding to the challenges of the changing world: The role of new plant varieties and high quality seed in Agriculture”. The three-day meeting, which will be held from 8 – 10 September 2009, will bring together experts and eminent personalities from across the globe.

This imminent seed conference is the result of cooperation between FAO (AGP) and its international partners comprising the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Seed Schemes, the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), the International Seed testing Association (ISTA) and the International Seed Dederation (ISF). The event will feature technical presentation/discussion and policy forum debate. The policy forum debate will be opened by the Minister of Agriculture, Italy and the Director-General of FAO while the Key Note Speech for the Policy Forum will be delivered by Mr. M. S. Swaminathan, UNESCO Chair in Ecotechnology, Member of Parliament of India and Father of the Indian Green Revolution. The meeting is a follow-up to the first Conference held in 1999 in Cambridge, UK.

Key issues relating to food security of changing global situation will be discussed. The themes of the technical sessions are – the role of plant breeding in meeting challenges of a fast-changing world, the importance of Plant Genetic Resources for plant breeding, access to Plant Genetic Resources and benefit sharing of the advantages resulting from their use, plant variety protection, the importance of quality seed in agriculture and facilitation of seed trade and market development. In particular, the Expert Forum will explore the:
•    importance of new plant varieties in responding to evolving needs;
•    role of multilateral cooperation in facilitating access to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and ensuring fair and equitable benefit sharing resulting from their use;
•    role of new technologies and methodologies in plant breeding;
•    need for intellectual property protection to encourage the development of new plant varieties;
•    scope for public/private partnerships;
•    role of international certification in facilitating trade and market development;
•    importance of high quality seed and seed treatment;
•    benefits of effective systems of seed production and distribution;
•    need for standardisation of methodologies in seed testing; and
•    mechanisms for reducing technical barriers to trade and facilitating trade in seed.
To ensure balanced view of issues involved, high-level stakeholders from the private and public sectors as well as Civil Society Organizations (CSO) have been invited to participate in the policy forum, which will build on the outputs of the technical sessions.