6 June 2003, Rome- Peru has ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, FAO said on Friday.

The country's Ambassador José Pablo Morán Val underlined the importance of the Treaty for Peru, "It is fundamental to protect Peru's indigenous varieties of our region and it will benefit our producers, especially rural farmers who are responsible for having preserved these species over the centuries," he said during the ratification ceremony.

Peru and the Andes are the cradle of plant species fundamental to world food consumption, such as the tomato and potato.

Countries in the Latin American region have preserved a breadth of biological diversity which has accumulated over centuries and is key for the survival of future generations.

Multilateral framework

Peru's signature and subsequent ratification of the Treaty "recognizes the importance of placing the conservation and the sustainable use of plant genetic resources within a multilateral framework which will benefit not only the Peruvian agricultural sector but the world as a whole," said José Esquinas-Alcázar, Secretary of FAO's Commission on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

He explained that all countries depend on genetic resources from other countries for their own agricultural development.

The Treaty also recognizes Farmers' Rights and establishes a multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing for 64 crops and plants fundamental to food security.

Forty countries

The Treaty becomes binding when it has been signed by at least 40 countries who will form the governing body.

The first meeting of the governing body will address issues such as how the financial benefits from trade of these genetic resources are managed, organized and shared.

Other questions that will be addressed include the transfer of plant genetic material covered by the Treaty, measures to implement the Treaty and its financing strategy.

Countries who were among the first to ratify the Treaty will therefore be well placed to ensure that their national interests are voiced at the initial meeting of the governing body.

To date 20 countries have either ratified, accepted or acceded to the Treaty. Eighty-seven countries and the European Union have already signed the treaty.

Nuria Felipe Soria
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570 55899