The FAO treaty

© Vitaliy Saveliev/Keystone
At international level the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources must ensure that access to agricultural biodiversity is maintained, farmers’ rights are respected, and benefits are fairly shared.

In Article 9 on farmers’ rights, the FAO International Treaty thus recognises “The Contracting Parties recognize the enormous contribution that the local and indigenous communities and farmers of all regions of the world, particularly those in the centres of origin and crop diversity, have made and will continue to make for the conservation and development of plant genetic resources which constitute the basis of food and agriculture production throughout the world”.

The Treaty also recognises the rights of farmers to “save, reuse, exchange and sell seeds/plant propagation material conserved on the farm”. This right was reaffirmed in the United Nations Treaty on rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas that was recently adopted by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.

It is important to note that intellectual property rights – patents or plant variety certificates – are a threat to these practices.