Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Codes, Standards and Guidelines


The International Code of Conduct for Plant Germplasm Collecting and Transfer

The International Code of Conduct for Plant Germplasm Collecting and Transfer aims to promote the rational collection and sustainable use of genetic resources, prevent genetic erosion, and protect the interests of both donors and collectors of germplasm. Among other elements, it sets out minimum responsibilities of collectors, sponsors, curators and users of collected germplasm, in the collection and transfer of plant germplasm. The Code is addressed primarily to governments and is to be implemented in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity and other legal instruments protecting biological diversity or parts of it. The Code was adopted by the FAO Conference in 1993, and negotiated through the Commission, which also has the responsibility of overseeing its implementation and review.


Genebank Standards

In 1991, the Commission considered it essential that appropriate standards be developed for genebanks operating within the international network. The Commission requested the convening of a panel of technical experts, to work in collaboration with FAO and IBPGR (International Board for Plant Genetic Resources; now Bioversity International) to assess and, if necessary, redefine genebank standards. It also agreed that the standards should take into account the advances in seed storage technology and the requirements of seeds of wild species. The Genebank Standards contain description of seed storage conditions and standards for the exchange and distribution of seeds from active collections.
In 1993, the Genebank Standards were endorsed by the Commission.

In 2009, the Commission requested FAO to revise the Genebank Standards in cooperation with the relevant international organizations to ensure up-to-date conservation of plant genetic resources, for consideration at its Thirteenth Regular Session.


Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries and Aquaculture Development – 3.Genetic Resource Management

At its Eleventh Regular Session, the Commission recognized the importance and vulnerability of aquatic genetic resources, their roles in an ecosystem approach for food and agriculture, and for their contributions to meeting the challenges presented by climate change.

Moreover, the Commission confirmed the need to develop technical guidelines for aquatic genetic resources conservation and sustainable use, in relation to the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Together with FAO's Regular Programme, the World Fisheries Trust and technical experts, the Commission supported the preparation of guidelines by FAO's Fisheries and Aquaculture Department on Aquaculture Development – 3.Genetic Resource Management.

These guidelines have been developed to support FAO's Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. They provide a succinct set of instruments towards improvement of genetic resources management in aquaculture and are addressed to decision makers as well as to senior resource officers, consumers and others interested in responsible fisheries and aquaculture.


Guidelines - Preparation of national strategies and action plans for animal genetic resources

The guidelines for the preparation of national strategies and action plans for animal genetic resources have been endorsed by the Commission, at its Twelfth Regular Session. The guidelines provide a practical approach to preparing a national strategy and action plan, informing the user how to get the planning process initiated, implemented and completed – culminating in government endorsement of the plan. Preparing and implementing a national strategy and action plan will help countries translate the Global Plan of Action into an effective and comprehensive approach to the sustainable use, development and conservation of their animal genetic resources.


Guidelines - Breeding strategies for sustainable management of animal genetic resources

The Commission, at its Twelfth Regular Session, endorsed the guidelines for breeding strategies for sustainable management of animal genetic resources, and encouraged countries to make full use of them. The guidelines are intended for use by policy-makers and organizations involved in livestock development, with the objective of helping countries to develop effective and sustainable genetic improvement programmes. They were validated at a series of workshops. In total, 120 scientists, technicians and policy-makers from all regions contributed to their development.