ROME, 6 November 2002 -- The United States has added
its signature to an International Treaty on Plant Genetic
Resources which aims to ensure better use of genetic diversity
to meet the challenge of eradicating world hunger, the UN Food
and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Wednesday.
The US joins the 76 other countries and the European
Union, who have signed the Treaty since it was adopted exactly a
year ago by the FAO Conference. The United States, along with
Japan, was one of two countries who had originally abstained
from voting on the Treaty, approved with 116 votes.
"I understand that this signing is a kind of
reversal from what we said just about a year ago," Tony
P. Hall, US Ambassador to FAO, said as he added his signature.
"But we have seen the wisdom of the Treaty and are very
glad to sign it," he added. States that have signed the
Treaty may now ratify it. Other states may now accede to the
Treaty directly, without needing to first sign it.
The Treaty is a unique comprehensive international
agreement, the fruit of almost a quarter of a century of
negotiations, which aims to guarantee the future availability of
the diversity of plant genetic resources for food and
agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits.
The Treaty also recognises Farmers'
Rights and establishes a multilateral system of access and
benefit-sharing for 64 crops and plants that are fundamental to
The Treaty on Plant Genetic
Resource will enter into force once ratified or acceded to by 40
countries, and the Treaty's Governing Body will then meet.
The Governing Body will then take important decisions on how the
agreement is implemented. The Governing body will consider, for
example, the sharing of the benefits arising from the use of
plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, including
through capacity-building, the transfer of technology and the
payment of an equitable share of the commercial benefits derived
from the use of genetic resources. It will also adopt a standard
material transfer agreement for genetic resources from the
with which countries have signed this agreement, the fruit of 23
years of discussions and formal negotiations, shows that
countries have a mutual interest in preserving their plant
genetic resources," said Mr. José Esquinas-Alcázar,
Secretary of FAO's Commission on Plant Genetic Resources
for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA). "We are sure that
they will also be as quick in ratifying the Treaty," he