Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
Global Instruments





International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

After seven years of negotiations in the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the FAO Conference adopted the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, in November 2001. The Treaty entered into force in 2004, after forty governments had ratified it. The first session of the Treaty’s Governing Body was held in 2006 in Madrid, Spain.

This legally-binding Treaty covers all plant genetic resources relevant for food and agriculture. It is in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Treaty’s objectives 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.

No country is self-sufficient in plant genetic resources, and international cooperation and exchange of genetic resources are therefore of pivotal importance and necessary for food security.  Through the Treaty, countries have agreed to establish a Multilateral System to facilitate access to key plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and to share the benefits derived from that access in a fair and equitable way.

The Treaty recognises the enormous contribution that farmers and their communities have made and continue to make to the conservation and development of plant genetic resources. This is the basis for Farmers' Rights, which include the protection of traditional knowledge, and the right to participate equitably in benefit-sharing and in national decision-making about plant genetic resources. It gives governments the responsibility for implementing these rights.

The Commission and the Treaty’s Governing Body contribute in different, but mutually supportive ways to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources. The Commission and the Treaty’s Governing Body cooperate to monitor threats to identify priority actions for the future.

In 2009, the Commission adopted the Joint Statement of Intent for Cooperation between the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. It also took note of Resolution 7/2009 of the Governing Body of the International Treaty, and reaffirmed its willingness to continue cooperating with the Governing Body in matters of common interest, especially in the context of its Multi-Year Programme of Work.

Information on the Treaty