Agricultural Biotechnologies
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Providing a Meeting Place for Nations

©FAO/Bárbara Lazcano

FAO provides a neutral forum where all nations can meet to discuss and formulate policy on major food and agriculture issues. FAO facilitates development of international standards and helps frame international conventions and agreements. It also hosts major conferences, technical meetings and consultations of experts. Regarding biotechnology, special mention should be given to the:

1. Codex Alimentarius Commission

The Joint FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission is an intergovernmental body set up to establish international standards on foods. It is also the principal forum for addressing the food safety aspects of GMOs where, for example, a first Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology was established in 1999 to consider the health and nutritional implications of such foods. The Commission's Secretariat is based in FAO Headquarters.

2. International Plant Protection Convention

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is an international treaty to secure action to prevent the spread and introduction of pests of plants and plant products, and to promote appropriate measures for their control. Living modified organisms (LMOs) that may present phytosanitary risks fall within the scope of the IPPC. The IPPC Secretariat coordinates the activities of the Convention and is hosted at FAO Headquarters.

3. Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) is a permanent intergovernmental forum, where governments discuss and negotiate matters relevant to genetic resources for food and agriculture. Biotechnology-related issues that have been discussed by the Commission include genetic use restriction technologies, gene flow from GMOs, and the Draft Code of Conduct on Biotechnology as it Relates to Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The Commission also provided the forum for negotiations that culminated in the approval by the FAO Conference, at its 31st session in 2001, of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). The objectives of the Treaty, which entered into force in 2004, are the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use. The CGRFA Secretariat, as well as the Secretariat to the ITPGRFA, is located in FAO Headquarters.

4. FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

Approved by the FAO Conference at its 28th session in 1995, the Code is a voluntary set of principles and standards applicable to the conservation, management and development of fisheries, which also refers specifically to genetically altered fish (Article 9.3.1).

Page Last Updated: May 2007

Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries (ABDC-10) Conference