C 2001/INF/1


Thirty-first Session

Rome, 2 November 2001


Table of Contents


1. The informal meeting of Observers from International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) attending the 31st Session of the FAO Conference was convened on Friday 2 November 2001, from 15:00 to 18:00. A list of participants is attached (Appendix). Following the usual practice, this report has been prepared by the appointed drafting group and is submitted for the attention of the Conference.

2. The Ad Hoc group of INGO Representatives to FAO residing in Rome (AHG-INGOs) prepared the meeting in consultation with the FAO and selected the following items for the agenda:

a)     FAO Plan of Action on Gender and Development 2002 - 2007 (Item 7 - Doc. C2001/9)

b)     International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Item 8 - Doc. C2001/16)

c)     International Code of Conduct in the Distribution and Use of Pesticides (Item 9 - Doc. C2001/7).

The objective of the meeting was the formulation of INGO recommendations, views and concerns to be reported to the Conference.

3. The meeting was opened by the designated Chairperson, Dr. Francesca Ronchi Proja, Permanent Representative of the International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE), and Co-ordinator of the AHG-INGOs. A Co-Chairperson was nominated, in the person of Ms. Susanne Gura, Representative of the German NGO Forum Environment and Development (GRAIN). She chaired during the agenda items on the genetic resources and the Code of conduct on pesticides. A drafting group composed of the following was constituted: Ms Alessia Boschin (WAGGGS), Mr Pat Mooney, Representative of Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group, formerly RAFI), Mr. Peter Hurst, Representative of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF); "ex officio" members, the Chairpersons.

4. Dr. Francesca Ronchi Proja welcomed the participants, particularly those coming from abroad. She provided some additional information on the AHG-INGOs' responsibilities for the organisation of the Informal Meeting and described the Meeting process.

5. Mr. Henry Carsalade, Assistant Director-General Technical Co-operation Department (TCD), welcomed the participants. He recalled that tha FAO Strategic Framework 2000 - 2015 includes an important chapter on partnerships, and reported on progress in implementing the "Policy and Strategy for FAO Cooperation with NGOs and other Civil Society Organizations" published in early 2000. Action has been taken to improve information sharing, NGO/CSO participation in policy dialogue, cooperation in field programmes and resource mobilization. FAO's Regional Offices have increased their outreach to civil society, and the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS:fyl) process has given great impetus to this work.

6. Ms Kay Killingsworth, Assistant Director-General/Special Adviser to the Director-General for World Food Summit Follow-up, provided information regarding the proposed new dates and process for the WFS:fyl as recommended by the 121st session of the FAO Council. She invited participants to take full advantage of the Regional Conferences and the Committee on World Food Security in 2002 as avenues for feeding in NGO/CSO views and experiences.

7. Mr. Antonio Onorati, Representative of the Italian NGO Federations and International Co-ordinator for the WFS: fyl NGO Forum, gave the latest information about the organisation of the Forum. He informed that the meeting of the Core Planning Group would take place on 3 and 4 November 2001 in FAO Headquarters.

8. Ms. Bettina Corke, Representative of the International Alliance of Women (IAW) on behalf of the AHG, presented the AHG Report on the implementation of the World Food summit, to indicate the interest and commitment of INGOs. The Report is available to those interested.

9. The proposed agenda was approved, with a change in the presentation of the agenda items.


10. This item was introduced by Patrick Mooney of ETC Group. Mr. José Esquinas-Alcazar, AGD, responded to queries. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) welcome the Treaty as a significant step in a 20-year process that has yielded potential agreement on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA). It is a step forward but, in the process, negotiators put aside many of the founding principles of the original G77 proposal in order to secure this compromise - a weak Treaty that poses few challenges to the dominant trade policy environment, technological developments and intellectual property rights regimes that have contributed to the rapid erosion of genetic resources for food and agriculture.

11. Agreement on the Treaty would signal the start of a new process of ratifications by signatories in order to secure a legally-binding international convention that will contribute to local and global food security and will accelerate implementation of the Global Plan of Action on Plant Genetic Resources Food and Agriculture.

12. CSOs regret that, by making Farmers' Rights subordinate to national laws, this Treaty will in effect remove rights from farmers. CSOs urge Member Governments of FAO to resolve to pursue greater international recognition of these fundamental and inalienable Rights both within FAO and in the UN Human Rights Commission negotiations on the Right to Food.

13. CSOs set three tests for this Treaty: is it Fair, Equitable and Comprehensive? It fails all three tests in its present form. It is not Fair: benefits are scarce, financial resources from OECD countries are not commensurate with the contribution made by farmers. It is not Equitable: is is ambiguous about ensuring that all farmers and breeders will have free access to PGRFA, unrestricted by Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). It is not Comprehensive: just 35 genera of crops and only 29 forage species are included in the Treaty.

14. Despite these shortcomings, only an international convention of this type can begin to address the deterioration in the flow of genetic resources and, therefore, CSOs urge members of FAO that if they agree the Treaty the then, supported by the Secretariat of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA), ratify the Treaty in all member countries, as soon as possible.

15. FAO Conference must insist that only the Governing Body, once formed after the Treaty comes into force, should be mandated to return to the Treaty text and negotiate the next steps: implementation of Farmers' Rights; improvement of benefit sharing and financial arrangements; Material Transfer Agreements; extension of the list of crops and forages; interpretation of the access and Intellectual Property Rights clauses; and clarification of the integrity and autonomy of the Treaty in relation with other agreements. The interim arrangements must focus on ratification, not negotiation of changes to the Treaty.

16. This is an historic Treaty and special recognition and thanks are due. CSOs would like to congratulate Ambassador Fernando Gerbasi, Chair of the CGRFA, for his unstinting efforts in securing this agreement. Also, CSOs thank the Secretariat to the CGRFA for their years of tireless commitment and, most importantly, the unsung heroes of genetic resource conservation and sustainable use - the farmers who develop, manage and safeguard these resources for future generations and who have Rights to benefits commensurate with this contribution to humankind.


17. The item was introduced by Dr. Giovanna Cavarocchi, Representative of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), who presented the comments prepared by the AHG on the Plan. The following recommendations were proposed so that they be taken into account in the implementation by the FAO Secretariat and by the FAO Member Governments.

18. This new Plan of Action represents an important step forward in identifying initiatives and activities within the FAO Technical Divisions for Gender Mainstreaming, with special attention to the needs and in support of rural women. It represents a more tangible commitment for the Secretariat and a clearer guide for FAO Member Governments in the implementation of programmes and projects directed to both sexes with equal attention.

19. We consider, however, that very little mention is made throughout the text of the role and involvement of NGOs in the many activities proposed in different fields of food and agriculture. We recommend that the need for this involvement not be neglected, since it is emphasised in all Commitments of the WFS Plan of Action, on which FAO's policies and programmes are based.

20. We wish to emphasise that women, rural women in particular and in developing countries, are still in inferiority conditions; their civil, legal and political rights are often not recognised, their right to education is often neglected. Therefore, they still require priority attention.

21. It is commendable that the Plan aims to increase and improve the participation of women in all fields of agriculture, fisheries and forestry, in planning, in training courses, etc. This will of course also increase the workload of women, which is already heavy especially in rural areas in developing countries. Most of the family responsibilities - care of children, of sick and elderly, the production, provision, preparation, processing of food for the family, house cleaning, often carrying water from far away, etc. - are on women's shoulders.

There is no attention in the Plan to this problem, to the need for sharing these responsibilities with men and boys. Often, in fact, girls are penalised and obliged to help at home while only boys are allowed to go to school. Thus, illiteracy is more frequent among women, increasing their inferiority situation vis-à-vis men. We think that education of girls and boys should include "education for equal partnership": they should be taught to recognise their differences and similarities and to respect each other as individuals.

22. We consider that priority attention should be given to training and education projects, and that planning should be done taking into account local situations and human needs. Resources should be used for projects promoted and carried out by women and for projects aiming at improving their representation in networks and organisations at local, national and international levels. Promotion of co-operatives of women should be supported.

23. Whenever paid activities are involved, women are often paid less than men for the same type of work. This situation should not be allowed to occur.

24. We agree with the statement in para. 48 that full participation and empowerment of women have not been obtained, even after years of advocacy and efforts. We believe that more efforts should be concentrated on the aspects and fields mentioned above.

25. We consider that education in nutrition and home economics, which is included in Commitment 2 of the WFS Plan of Action, is of great importance and should receive increasing attention.

26. We agree that young women and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to AIDS epidemic, and wish to emphasise that children and young people are critical in changing the course of the epidemic, provided they are informed and advised through all possible means and media of the risks and of ways of protection.

27. In discussing the item, several points of view were put forward:

-     The new approach on gender and development was welcomed but it was also noted that there is the need to join the issue of women and development to gender and development, and several INGOs stated that they are already doing this. Specific projects for women still need to be developed. Information split by sex can be beneficial to policy making.

-     Education programmes should be promoted for women to be better informed about genetic resources and the richness they are contributing to create and preserve. Rural women are already playing a central role in protecting traditional plants and local crops.

-     In case of conflicts and emergency situations, the political opinion and will of women should be sought and they should be involved in decision-making. At least one technical division of FAO should be charged with collection and analysis of data by sex on the impact of armed conflicts and wars on agricultural and food production.

-     Social and economic advancement for rural women should be promoted within the framework of all national plans, in order to target rural women as participants and beneficiaries of programmes and projects.

-     Attention should be paid to health conditions of women, since this affects agriculture and food production. Adolescent pregnancy too can be a major hindrance for girls to take an active role in society, because their health and nutrition conditions are at risk and they may be discriminated as far as further education is concerned.

28. All these recommendations should be taken into account by Member Governments when considering gender issues in their national plans, since this will strengthen the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action.

29. Mrs. Marie Randriamamonjy, Chief of FAO's Women and Sustainable Development Service, and her colleagues, pointed out that the Plan of Action represents a basis for implementation by FAO and Member Governments in their national plans and actions. Additional detailed information was provided on methodology, process and follow-up of the Plan.


30. This item was introduced by Peter Hurst, IUF. Mr. Niek van der Graaff, AGPP, responded to queries. The voluntary FAO Code on Pesticides has been extensively revised through a series of expert meetings and wider consultations with governments and stakeholders which began in 2000.

31. NGOs are requesting delegates to the FAO Conference to support the adoption of the revised Code when it is discussed on Wednesday afternoon, 7 November 2001.

32. The FAO Code was introduced in 1985 to provide guidance on the sound management of pesticides for governments, the pesticide industry, farmers, waged agricultural workers and other stakeholders.

33. The 1985 FAO Code was revised in 1989 to incorporate the PIC procedure. The signing of the Rotterdam Convention on PIC made this Article of the Code redundant, and the FAO was asked to initiate a revision, also taking into account its experience over the last 15 years. FAO called for comments, and held an expert group meeting in December 1999 to review comments and make recommendations. The draft was circulated in early 2000, encouraging a widespread email consultation. A second draft was again circulated for consultation, and submitted to the Committee on Agriculture this year. COAG noted the revisions and encouraged the process. Final comments were discussed at a meeting of key stakeholders - governments, industry and NGOs - in early June to finalise the draft for submission to Council, where it was discussed and endorsed.

34. The Code sets guidelines that, if implemented, would address many pesticide hazards in developing countries. The Code is, of course, voluntary, but has been an important element in setting standards and developing national legislation, and will continue to fulfil this function. We would also like to draw attention to a recommendation of the expert group meeting of December 1999 for "development of a Strategic Document on the Implementation of the Code ... procedures for determining non-compliance ... and for treatment of parties found to be in non-compliance" and suggest that it may be appropriate for Conference to consider making such a recommendation with the adoption of the Code.

35. The points below are not exhaustive, but draw attention to a number of the improved requirements.

Article 1. Objectives

36. Addresses itself not only to international organizations, governments and the pesticide industry, but also to the food industry and others who could play an important role in encouraging more sustainable agriculture.

37. Adopts the "life-cycle" concept to address all major aspects related pesticides.

Article 2. Terms and definitions

38. Throughout the text, the Code no longer refers to `safe use', but `less hazardous';

39. Incorporates a new definition of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), emphasising need to grow of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption of agro-ecosystems, and encourage natural pest control mechanisms.

Article 3. Pesticide management

40. Calls for a concerted effort by governments to develop and promote IPM based on scientific and other strategies that include increased participation of farmers (including women's groups), extension agents and on-farm researchers;

41. Broadens the stakeholders asked to promote IPM to include IPM researchers, extension agents, crop consultants, food industry, manufacturers of biological and chemical pesticides and application equipment.

42. Draws attention to the need for research in, and the development of, alternatives posing lower risks, biological control agents and techniques, non-chemical pesticides;

43. Promotes pesticide application methods and equipment that pose low risks to human health and the environment, are more efficient and cost-effective.

Article 5. Reducing health and environmental risks

44. Explicitly addresses both health and environmental risks, and not just health. The environmental aspects include the need to:

Article 6. Regulatory and technical requirements

45. Asks governments to collect data on import, manufacture, formulation, quality and quantity of pesticides, and industry is required to provide it.

Article 7. Availability and use

46. Explicitly requests a prohibition on import, sale and purchase of highly toxic and hazardous products, such as WHO classes 1a and 1b where control measures are insufficient to ensure the product can be handled with acceptable risk to the user.

Article 8. Distribution and Trade

47. Calls on governments to implement licensing procedures relating to the sale of pesticides, to ensure those involved are capable of providing buyers with advice on risk reduction and efficient use, and calls on industry to ensure sellers hold appropriate licenses.

48. Calls on governments to ensure that any pesticide subsidies or donations should not lead to excessive or unjustified use, and that producers of pesticides establish purchasing procedures to prevent the oversupply of pesticides.

Article 9. Information exchange

49. Encourages the need for public access to information, as well as encouraging governments to support each other through regional and sub-regional networks.

Article 10. Labelling, packaging, storage and disposal

50. Explicitly calls on industry to help dispose of obsolete stocks of pesticides, and to assist in disposing of banned and obsolete pesticides that are still in use.

Article 11. Advertising

51. Adds to the injunction against promoting safety claims in advertising (e.g. `safe', `non-poisonous', `harmless', `non-toxic') the need to avoid promoting pesticides as being `compatible with IPM', with or without a qualifying phrase such as `when used as directed'.

Article 12. Monitoring and observance of the Code

52. Indicates that the "Code should be brought to the attention of all concerned in the regulation, manufacture, distribution and use of pesticides, so that governments, individually or in regional groupings, pesticide industry, international institutions, pesticide user organizations, agricultural commodity industries and food industry groups (such as supermarkets) that are in a position to influence good agricultural practices, understand their shared responsibilities in working together to ensure that the objectives of the Code are achieved."

53. One of the main weaknesses of earlier versions of the Code has been the lack of proper monitoring and observance. In adopting and promoting the revised Code, the FAO and governments are urged to address the question of how to strengthen the role of NGOs in monitoring and observance.


54. The Chairperson closed the meeting thanking the participants and the FAO representatives for their contributions.



    Mr Alex Wijeratna

A.R.E.A.-ED (Member of GRAIN delegation)
    Mr Foued Chehat

Asia NGO Coalition (ANGOC)
    Ms Cristina Liamzon

Assessoria e Servicos a Projetos em Agricultura Alternativa, AS-PTA (Member of CLADES delegation)
    Mr Jean-Marc von der Weid

Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) and Soroptimist International (SI)
    Ms Carmela Basili

Association Camerounaise des Femmes Ingénieurs en Agriculture (Member of Cameroun delegation)
    Ms Clémentine Ananga Messina

Business and Professional Women International (BPW Int.)
    Ms Annarosa Colangelo

Comité General Cooperatives Agricoles de L'U.E. (CO.GE.L.A.)
    Mr Mario Campli

Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura, CONTAG (Member of IUF delegation)
    Mr Alberto E. Broch

Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group, formerly RAFI)
    Ms Julie Delahanty
    Mr Pat Mooney

German NGO Forum Environment and Development (Member of GRAIN delegation)
    Susanne Gura

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, IATP (Member of GRAIN delegation)
    Mr Neil Sorensen

Institute for Motivating Self Employment, IMSE (Member of FIAN delegation)
    Mr Biplab Halim

Institute for Sustainable Development (Member of IFOAM delegation)
    Ms Annamarija Slabe

International Alliance of Women (IAW)
    Ms Bettina Corke

International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE)
    Ms Elena Lodi-Fé
    Ms Margaret Loseby

International Association of Agricultural Students (IAAS)
    Mr Gábor Réczey

International Catholic Rural Association (ICRA)
    Mr Vito Montaruli

International Cooperative Alliance (ICA)
    Mr Lino Visani

International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP)
    Ms Eleonora della Noce
    Ms Paola Ortensi

International Federation for Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
    Ms Cristina Grandi

International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE)
    Ms Francesca Ronchi Proja

International NGO/CSO Planning Committee for the WFS;fyl/CROVIA (Member of GRAIN delegation)
    Antonio Onorati

International Indian Treaty Council
    Ms Carol Kalafatic

Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG)
    Patrick Mulvany

International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)/UITA
    Mr Peter Hurst (+ ICFTU)

Rotary International
    Mr Marco C. Randone

Society for International Development (SID)
    Ms Elena Mancusi-Materi

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
    Ms Bruna Magnani Lomazzi
    Ms Patrizia Sterpetti

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts
    Ms Alessia Boschin
    Ms Giovanna Cavarocchi
    Ms Alessandra Silvi

World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU)
    Ms Anna Laura Casadei

World Union Women Catholic Organizations (WUCWO)
    Ms Carla Clifton-Romersi
    Ms Maria Giovanna Ruggieri

Italian Government Participants:
    Ms Stefania Tedeschi, Ministry of Agriculture (MIPAR)
    Mr Filippo Alessi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Development Cooperation

FAO Participants:
    Mr Henri Carsalade, TCD
    Ms Maria Colagrossi, TCDN
    Mr José Equinas-Alcazar, AGD
    Mr Niek van der Graaff, AGPP
    Mr Gilles Hirzel, Bureau Régional pour l'Europe
    Mr John Hourihan, SDW
    Ms Kay Killingsworth, SAD
    Ms Nora McKeon, TCDN
    Mr Robert Lettington, AGD
    Ms Marie Randriamamonjy, SDW
    Ms Sophie Treinen, SDW