UKabc is an activity of the UK Food Group. Click here for UK Food Group Home Page Click here to return to UKabc Home Page
UKabc Noticeboard UKabc Noticeboard, Latest Updates [Alpacas watching out]
Sustaining Agricultural Biodiversity Sustaining Agricultural Biodiversity, Agro-ecosystems and Production. & Introduction to Agricultural Biodiversity issues [Maragwa Seed Show 1998, Kenya]
Governance Governance and Advocacy: the International Agricultural Biodiversity Agenda [Logos of FAO, WTO, CBD, CSD]
Genetic Engineering Regulating Genetic Engineering, Biotechnology and Biosafety [GenetiX symbol in sunflower]
IPRs, Access & Benefit Sharing Benefit Sharing, Intellectual Property, TRIPs [Women sorting seed potatoes in Peru]
Links Open Directory Project for links on Agricultural Biodiversity [Artisanal fisherfolk launching boat in Kerala, India]
Contact UKabc Site maintained by Patrick Mulvany, ITDG - PRACTICAL ANSWERS TO POVERTY

• 05•10•2013 •

Get Acrobat Reader to read PDF files
for PDF file - use Acrobat Reader files


INTERNATIONAL TREATY ON PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE -
International Seed Treaty

Struggling to keep access for small-scale food providers to the world's plant genetic resources for food and agriculture

5th session of the Governing Body, Muscat, Oman, 24 - 28 September 2013


FAO Conference adopted the Seed Treaty at 16:00 GMT on 3 November 2001
"The First Treaty of the New Millennium" Jacques Diouf, DG FAO

Syngenta threatens Treaty

Negotiating Sessions

Briefing Documents

LATEST

LATEST NEWS
17 June 2006

Top of Page

First Session of Treaty Governing Body agrees Standard MTA and urgent need to implement Farmers Rights

The first session of the Governing Body of the Treaty ended at 2:20am on 17 June. It decided on a legally-binding standard material transfer agreement and to prioritise discussions on Farmers Rights, as recommended by CSOs in their 14 June statement.

The specific and important decisions in the SMTA included provisions on: FAO as the third party beneficiary; a percentage of 1.1% as the fixed percentage a recipient shall pay when a product is commercialized yet not available without restriction to others for further research and breeding; and 0.5% for the alternative payments scheme.

Also, following interventions from Norway and CSOs agreed to put a discussion on the implementation of Article 9 "Farmers Rights" on the agenda of the second session of the Governing Body to which farmers organisations, absent at this session in Madrid, would be welcomed.

CSOs rounded off the meeting with a much welcomed and applauded presentation of the first Herman Warsh Memorial Award for "services to the genetic resources community" to Pepe Esquinas the Secretary to the CGRFA and principal architect of the Treaty. A beautifully carved chess set was presented to Pepe as a token of this award.

Pictures from ENB www.iisd.ca/biodiv/itpgrgb1/

Pat Mooney (ETC group) presents the Herman Warsh Memorial Award to Pepe Esquinas, Secretary to the CGRFA. Paul Borja and Wilhelmina Pelegrina (SEARICE) hold the award - the Genetic Resources Chess Game.

Pepe Esquinas receives the award.

 

The Herman Warsh Memorial Award

for outstanding service to the genetic resources community 

Genetic Resources Chess Game

At the beginning of the negotiations that led to the establishment of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture , Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) agreed to give an award to the individual who contributed most constructively to the realization of the Treaty. With this in mind, indigenous woodcarvers in the Philippines were asked to create a unique chess game that would be emblematic of the diplomatic negotiation process. Anticipating a speedy conclusion to the deliberations, the chess game was completed in 1998. Luckily, civil society is nothing if not persistent and, when the negotiations were completed on November 3, 2001, the chess game was rediscovered, dusted off, and readied for the occasion of the first meeting of the Governing Body.

There was no delay or debate on who should be the first recipient of the Genetic Resources Chess Game : José T. Esquinas Alcàzar – Pepe. For more than 30 years, Pepe has played the Genetic Resources Chess Game with enormous passion, dignity, and diplomacy. As the first recipient of the Award, he will set the standard for all future recipients.

CSOs with observer status in the Commission and Treaty, in giving this Award, ask that the Award be placed in a prominent location in FAO headquarters and that at each meeting of the Governing Body, the Chair of the Bureau form a Contact Group inviting one person from the Group of 77 and China and one person from OECD states as well as an individual from Civil Society to be an Awards Committee to determine the recipient for the period since the last meeting of the Governing Body.

CSOs offer this as an Award of the Governing Body out of respect for its achievements and in anticipation of its great work ahead on Farmers' Rights. We ask that the Award be adopted by the Governing Body in the spirit of camaraderie and good humour that has been a hallmark of our work together.

The award is being presented to Pepe Esquinas in the name of Herman Warsh. Herman Warsh and his family have quietly supported the conservation and sustainable use and equitable sharing of genetic resources for the past 25 years. Beginning, appropriately, in 1981, he and his family have donated more than $5 million to community-based in-situ and ex-situ seed conservation and to the related policy issues including Farmers' Rights. This has supported important work throughout the world. Mr. Warsh and his family were the first to make a voluntary contribution to the genetic resources fund first established by FAO in 1987. Civil Society Organizations feel it is appropriate to give the Genetic Resources Chess Game in Herman Warsh's name in recognition of his early and consistent contribution. Herman Warsh passed away in April, 2006 fully aware of the importance of this Treaty to humanity.

Rules of the Game

•  The game can only be won if all the pieces remain on the chess board.

•  The objective of the game is to have everything move and nothing fall off.

•  Despite appearances, the chess pieces are not glued to the board. However, a piece can only be moved with the consensus of all of the members of the Governing Body.

•  Some of the species represented on the chess board are not on the "List". These species cannot move. Not to worry, they will soon become extinct.

•  Note that there are animal species on the chess board. That's a hint.

•  Also note that the Vavilov centers on the map on the board are poorly defined. That's another hint.

•  Diplomats will be disappointed to see that farmers are on one side of the chess board while diplomats are on the other. This will change: when Farmers' Rights are legally entrenched at both national and international levels.

•  The playing field (the chess board) appears flat -- but is actually tilted. That's because diplomats are playing this game.

 

 

CIVIL SOCIETY RECOMMENDATIONS
TO THE FIRST SESSION OF THE GOVERNING BODY OF
THE INTERNATIONAL TREATY ON PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE

 

Civil Society Organisations present at this meeting recognise the historical moment of this First Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty. It is a step forward although the way in which Farmers Rights have been dealt with by the Treaty is one of the reasons why many in Civil Society and Farmers Organisations have withdrawn from the process.

 

Urgent matters that the Governing Body must address include:

•  Implementing Farmers' Rights at national and international levels

•  Securing benefit sharing through the Standard Material Transfer Agreement

•  Operationalising Articles 5 and 6

•  Improving relations with Civil Society + Farmers' Organisations

•  Ensuring the Treaty has an effective Secretariat and a productive relationship with the CGRFA

 

FARMERS RIGHTS

The Treaty recognises the importance, basis and scope of Farmers' Rights in its preambular text and that they need to be promoted at national and international levels. In order to do this, the Governing Body should require governments to report on the implementation and status of Farmers Rights at the next session of the Governing Body. At the next session there should be a discussion on creating a Working Group on Farmers Rights that would be inclusive of Parties, Civil Society and Farmers' Organisations. Specifically the Secretariat should be mandated to seek the views of Farmers' Organisations prior to the next session of the Governing Body on how to move forward on Farmers Rights. The Secretariat should find ways to facilitate participation Farmers Organisations at the next session of the GB. CSOs were pleased with the Decision of CBD/COP8 to support the moratorium on Terminator. We noted that the CBD will be requesting this Governing Body to examine the potential impacts of GURTs. We believe that it might be more appropriate for the Governing Body to ask the CGRFA to take the lead on this, especially concerning the market and economic impacts of GURTs on farming systems.

 

SECURING BENEFIT-SHARING THROUGH THE SMTA

One of the three main goals of the Treaty – the equitable sharing of benefits – is under threat. There is a risk that the proposals of some Parties will reduce benefits that can be realised through the Treaty to zero.

 

(SMTA Art. 6.11) CSOs present at the First Session of the Governing Body welcome the African proposal for a simpler and broader mechanism for benefit-sharing based on a percentage of all sales of seeds of any crop listed in Annex 1. According to Art. 13.2 (d) of the Treaty, during the next Session of the Governing Body the possibility to extend the mandatory payment to all products will have to be tabled. CSOs are in favour of this extension of the mandatory payment, which will also help to put the funding for the conservation activities on a broader basis.

 

(SMTA Art. 2) It has to made clear that a patented product cannot be included in the definition of “Available without restriction”. Industry representatives and some Parties are trying to promote an interpretation that a patent received in a country which includes a research exemption in its patent law does not restrict the availability of a product to others for further breeding. This interpretation denies the fact that behind every breeding activity is the aim to bring seeds to market and that there is a big difference between a research exemption in patent law and the breeders exemption in PVP laws. It was quite clear during the negotiations for the Treaty that “without restriction for further research and breeding” means that a product is available for further breeding by a “breeders exemption”, as defined in PVP laws which allow the breeder the right to sell new varieties developed from this product without restriction. This is not the case if patented traits or plants are used. It is clear that there will be almost no obligation to share any benefits if patents are included in this definition of “available without restriction”.

 

(SMTA Art. 2) The definition of “Product” must be as simple and clear as possible. CSOs support the proposal that a Product “incorporates Material or any of its genetic parts or components”. Using terms such as “commercial value”, or a specific percentage of material accessed, to define a Product will only lead to new uncertainties. But “Product” should not only be limited to commercial propagation material. Markers for example, used as a tool for marker assisted breeding, are also PGRFA and would be excluded in this case.

 

(SMTA Art. 4.3) Monitoring : Monitoring by a third party beneficiary of the fulfilment of the requirements of SMTAs is necessary to make sure that the rules are followed. To improve the quality of monitoring the third party beneficiary should also be allowed to receive complaints by other stakeholders (e.g. CG-Centers or CSOs). The third party beneficiary should be obliged to evaluate these complaints and report the findings to the Governing Body and the compliance mechanisms. It would be better to incorporate an effective monitoring system, than to be humiliated by others who will point to the failings of the Governing Body in implementing the Treaty properly. We should keep in mind the role CSOs have played in monitoring the CBD and reporting, for example, biopiracy cases. To allow other stakeholders to monitor, the notification system should be made public.

 

(SMTA Art. 6.9) We welcome the proposal that the owner of an IP Protection shall make the product available to the multilateral system after the abandonment or expiry of the protection. It should also be envisaged that the same requirement should be made for products which are withdrawn from the market e.g. when they are removed from seed lists.

 

IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH CIVIL SOCIETY + FARMERS' ORGANISATIONS

If the Treaty is to be implemented effectively and its objectives realised, it is essential that the Governing Body and Secretariat find improved ways to include civil society, farmers organisations and women's organsations in its work. It is unacceptable that the Civil Society Organizations are excluded as observers from the Contact Group negotiating the SMTA, when Industry is allowed to participate. During all the negotiations of the Treaty the representation of both CSOs and Industry has been maintained. It is incomprehensible that Working Group I ignored the well established practice for the inclusion of Observers. Therefore CSOs ask for the immediate and ongoing participation in the Contact Group negotiating the SMTA as observers.

 

OPERATIONALISING ARTICLES 5 and 6

Articles 5 and 6 are concerned with the conservation and sustainable use of all PGRFA. They provide the legal framework for the implementation of the Leipzig Global Plan of Action. A decade ago when the GPA was negotiated, estimates for implementing it were put at around $300m per year. These funds are urgently needed and will not be realised through royalties. The GB should be calling for renewed commitments to funding the GPA that are essential for realising the objectives of the Treaty. We support proposals that the next session of the GB should discuss this matter. In preparation for this we propose that Governing Body ask the Secretariat to conduct a study of relevant activities, including work by farmers, and the funds currently available for both in situ / on-farm and ex situ conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA.

 

SECRETARIAT AND CGRFA

The future of the Treaty will depend to some extent on the importance given to it by the FAO Secretariat. The Governing Body must insist that the Secretariat of the Treaty has a high profile within FAO and be sufficiently staffed. Its Secretary, nominated by the GB, should be appointed, by DG FAO, at a sufficiently senior grade, at least at D1 level, in order to have the necessary authority to implement the decisions of the GB and to realise the objectives of the Treaty. CSOs are concerned that governments have not given sufficient attention to the formation of the Secretariat and they need to be thinking of excellent candidates, women and men, from all regions for this post of Secretary. CSOs are relieved to know that Clive Stannard and the other staff of the CGRFA will continue to act as the interim Secretariat once Dr Esquinas retires. The Governing Body must also ensure that the Treaty relates effectively with the CGRFA. The CGRFA is going through a generational transformation over the next few years and we welcome decision to move the Secretariat of the Commission to the Sustainable Development division in FAO but we would insist that its Secretariat maintains its current status within FAO and in its relations with Members of the Commission.

 

Berne Declaration, CBDC Network, ETC group, Global Forest Coalition, IFOAM, ITDG/ PracticalAction , SEARICE, SEEDS, Sobrevivencia Paraguay

 

14 th June 2006

 

 

International Seed Treaty to become law on 29 June 2004

Jo Yvon, First Secretary UK Mission, hands over ratification document to FAO. Watched by Louise Fresco, ADG Agriculture, and Jose Esquinas-Alcazar, Secretary to the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Jo Yvon, First Secretary UK Mission, hands over ratification document to FAO. Watched by Louise Fresco, ADG Agriculture, and Jose Esquinas-Alcazar, Secretary to the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

At 11:30 this morning (31 March 2004), the 40th ratification of the International Seed Treaty (IT PGRFA) was deposited at FAO. The Treaty will come into force on 29th June 2004, just 30 months after being adopted by the FAO Conference.

Patrick Mulvany, ITDG was privileged to be there as a member of the UK delegation - the only NGO invited to this ceremony.

The Treaty provides the legal framework for the conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from their sustainable use. It promotes both on-farm and ex situ conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and will implement Farmers'Rights, albeit at a national level. It is humanity's insurance against future food shocks.

A small ceremony was held in FAO headquarters, chaired by Louise Fresco (FAO/ADG Agriculture), at which the 11 European countries that had ratified the Treaty and the European Commission collectively gave their instruments of ratification to FAO.

Louise Fresco said the Treaty contributes to the goals of the Rio Earth Summit and to sustainable agriculture. She said that many challenges still face the Governing Body and these will need to resolved at its first meeting.

The Irish Presidency said how important the EU viewed the Treaty and the contributions it would make to achieving the goals of the World Food Summit as well as the Millennium Development Goals, especially MDG 1 on reducing by half the number of hungry people by 2015.

The European Commission representative added that this was a major breakthrough and that it was important for agricultural research. The European Union would be intending to press for adding species to the list of crops covered by the Multilateral System - currently 35 genera that include most of the world's key food crops and 29 forage species.

ITDG has issued a Briefing see <www.itdg.org> in which it calls on the Governing Body of the Treaty to resolve the ambiguities in the clause on intellectual property rights (Article 12.3.d) in order to ensure that the seeds and genes covered by the Treaty are kept in the public domain and that access is unrestricted by patents. Further it calls on Farmers'Rights to implemented fully by all countries and for sufficient funding to be made available to resource the activities required to implement the goals of the Treaty.

Coincidentally the ceremony was held just as 130 countries started discussions at FAO on the conservation and sustainable use of animal breeds, which are disappearing at twice the rate of plant varieties. ITDG and other Civil Society Organisations will be calling for an international agreement on animal genetic resourcers for food and agriculture. CSOs will be promoting the Karen Commitment to Livestock Keepers'Rights <www.ukabc.org/karen.htm>, which calls for an international legally-binding agreement(s) that will, among other things, recognise and implement Livestock Keepers'Rights, will outlaw patents on livestock and their genetic resources, and will call for a moratorium on the release of genetically modified livestock.

FAO News Release

EU News Release

Food Navigator

Yahoo! News

SciDevNet

Top of Page

Financial Times article

Agriculture 'is depleting gene diversity of animals'

Top of Page

By John Mason, Food and Rural Affairs Correspondent

Financial Times; Mar 31, 2004

The Holstein Friesian, with its familiar black and white markings, is possibly the world's most instantly recognisable cow. Throughout North America, Europe and New Zealand, its reputation for producing large quantities of milk has made it a favourite of dairy farmers operating in fiercely competitive commodity markets.

Genetically, however, the breed is less of a success story, argue scientists. Bred in their thousands each year, usually by artificial insemination using the semen of relatively few prize bulls, Holstein Friesians are now one of the most inbred of any farm animal.

Although a long way from being clones, each of the world's Holstein Friesians is remarkably similar. The genetic diversity of the world's herd, which totals some 30m animals, is so limited it equates to a population of under one hundred, had they been left to mate as nature intended.

A meeting of scientists in Rome today will hear a note of alarm about the depletion of the gene pool of the world's livestock with warnings that other, less-favoured breeds are in danger of extinction as the techniques of industrial agriculture are increasingly adopted.

The meeting, at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, will consider the best form of international action to address the problem.

Irene Hoffmann, the FAO's chief of animal production, said: "Genetic diversity is an insurance against future threats such as famine, drought and epidemics. The existing gene pool may contain valuable but unknown resources that could be very useful for future food security and agricultural development."

She added: "Maintaining animal genetic diversity allows farmers to select stocks or develop new breeds in response to environmental change, diseases and changing consumer demands."

Of 6,300 animal breeds registered with the FAO, 1,350 are in danger of dying out and latest figures show the trend worsening.

Criollo cattle in Latin America, which have more milk fat than European cows, are in danger through cross-breeding. Kuri cattle from Lake Chad are also threatened through loss of habitat and breeding with other species. In Brazil, only 12 of 32 native pig breeds are left and all are in danger.

The need to preserve all forms of genetic diversity is being recognised, if slowly. One success story has been the negotiation of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources.

This agreement, which comes into effect today, establishes a legal framework for protecting plant biodiversity and sharing the commercial benefits of its exploitation.

However, protecting the genetic diversity of animals is harder. While plant seeds can be frozen and preserved in gene-banks, the same techniques are less available for animal semen and embryos.

Effective conservation is best done by keeping alive populations of the animals themselves, argues Ms Hoffmann. This requires action at national or local level against a background of forecasts that future economic growth in the developing world will increase demand for meat, potentially worsening the underlying problem.

But, as with the preservation of plant genetics, issues surrounding technological advances could become the most contentious.

Techniques to use genetic modification to improve livestock breeds or produce animals with organs suitable for transplanting into humans are being developed.

The plant treaty left unresolved many issues surrounding such technologies, including intellectual property rights regimes and the patenting of genetic resources.

The same vexed issues are expected to arise over animal genetics.

Find this article at:

http://search.ft.com/s03/search/article.html?id=040331000824

Top of Page

LATEST NEWS
1 February 2003

Top of Page


The Treaty requires 40 ratifications or other instruments of accession to come into force. Currently it has 35 with Egypt being the most recent.

Ratification : Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Jordan, Malawi, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic

Acceptance : Cambodia, Paraguay

Approval : Algeria, Guinea, DPR Korea, DR Congo, Honduras, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, St Lucia, Sierra Leone, Uganda

Imminent: acceded / ratification (February/ March 2004) The Philippines, c. 10 EU countries

The Treaty is expected therefore to come into force in July 2004, 90 days after the 40th ratification or accession.




LATEST NEWS
14 June 2002

Top of Page


Signatory Countries of the Treaty:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, European Community, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea ,Haiti, India, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela.

LATEST NEWS
April 2002

Top of Page
  • April 2002

    CBD /COP 6 welcomes the International Treaty and calls for signatures and ratifications.

    NGOs/CSOs at CBD/COP 6 underscore this with qualifications about the need for the Governing Body to clarify that no IPRs may be taken out on the material in the MultiLateral System, that the Treaty is not subordinate to the WTO, that Farmers' Rights need to be internaitonally recognised and that benefits and financing of activities in farming communities need to be commensurate with farmers' generational contributions.
    See UKabc CBD/COP 6 pages for details, statements, interviews &c

    This is response to a letter from ITDG to the The Rt Hon Margaret Beckett, MP Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, sent during the final negotiations in Rome.
    (full letter)

    Assessment by RAFI&c on the UK performance in the negotiations: "The delegation’s passionate insistence that the treaty be in no way subordinate to earlier accords such as the WTO made them heroes to CSOs and many in Europe."
    (See: The Law of the Seed! commentary by RAFI &c)

Top of Page


LATEST NEWS
14 December 2001

Top of Page
  • 14 December

    DEFRA, the UK environment and rural affairs ministry, thanks UKabc for helping to develop the UK position in the Treaty negotiations.

    "...we were most grateful for the active contribution the UK Food Group/UKabc made to the development of the UK line." DEFRA
    (full letter)

    This is response to a letter from ITDG to the The Rt Hon Margaret Beckett, MP Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, sent during the final negotiations in Rome.
    (full letter)

    Assessment by RAFI&c on the UK performance in the negotiations: "The delegation’s passionate insistence that the treaty be in no way subordinate to earlier accords such as the WTO made them heroes to CSOs and many in Europe."
    (See: The Law of the Seed! commentary by RAFI &c)

  • 7 December

    Comment from RAFI&c: "The three 'R's' of any treaty are 'ratification, ratification, ratification.' Although difficult, with the Director-General's backing, letters to Heads of State, and active presentations at the FAO's upcoming regional conferences, 40 states could ratify the treaty by the June 10-13 World Food Summit."


    See: The Law of the Seed! commentary by RAFI &c; GRAIN comments and CSO release

  • 21 November

    Doha deals - winners and losers

    Caroline Lucas
    Wednesday November 21, 2001, The Guardian

    (See also: The ill wind of trade. The WTO talks which ended last week in Qatar were hailed as a breakthrough for poor countries. More like a disaster, argues delegate Caroline Lucas. Guardian Society 21 November 2001)

    Agriculture
    The EU's massively subsidised agricultural system has long been criticised for its devastating effect on the livelihoods of southern farmers, who cannot compete against cheap food such as wheat, beef and butter dumped in their markets by the EU. The draft ministerial declaration referred to negotiations "with a view to phasing out" these subsidies. But with the French disputing that subsidies should be phased out and threatening to walk out, a face-saving deal was made which again puts off the date when the EU has to stop export dumping. Good for the EU, disappointing for developing countries.

    Intellectual property
    Developing countries wanted assurances that the WTO's agreement on trade-related intellectual property (Trips) covering patent rules would not threaten their ability to buy cheap generic drugs. A good deal on patents was negotiated which will help poor countries get cheaper medicines. Doha sent a strong mes sage that people's health overrides the interests of big drug companies, who will now find it much harder to bully poor countries over patents. But the battle on Trips isn't over. In particular, no attention was paid to concerns about the need to prohibit the patenting of life forms, and to ensure developing countries can protect local community rights in seeds from biopiracy by multinationals.

    Environment
    Under pressure from public opinion in Europe, the EU came to Doha with the environment high on its agenda. It was resisted by most developing countries, who feared that high environmental standards in the north could be used as a protectionist smokescreen to deny them access to their markets. Negotiations on the liberalisation of environmentally sensitive services such as water, energy and waste will now be accelerated, posing further risks to the environment and local communities. Avictory for the EU, a disaster for the global environment.


  • 21 November

    Some agencies and media have fallen into a trap and are repeating WTO propaganda that a 'New Round has been agreed'. This is not the case, according to Doha insiders. There is agreement to continue the current agenda and implement various parts such as the review of TRIPS Article 27.3(b) - and the addition of a few extra items over which the right of Veto has been secured.

    This can hardly be described other than by a WTO PR department as a 'New Round'.

    Conclusion from CSO commentators is that the South has lost out on most things, with a couple of gains. Not a lot to write home about!

    CAFOD reports:

    "Doha marks the start of negotiations, not the end. The inclusion of twelve huge issues in the declaration means that the talks will take longer than the scheduled three years. It is far too early to talk of a 'development round'. If trade rules are to be changed to benefit the world's poor, the Doha declaration's many references to development will need to be converted from pious hopes into action. To date, the WTO's track record on this is lamentable. "

    http://www.cafod.org.uk/livefromdoha/doha_uphillstruggle20011115.shtml

  • 16 November

    WDM reflects on lack of focus on TRIPs in Doha


    "There was little attention to other [not medicines related] problems with the TRIPs agreement, including African nations' proposals to strengthen traditional rights over natural resources and traditional knowledge against biopiracy (as in multinationals patenting the active ingredients of plants used by indigenous peoples), to prohibit the patenting of life, and a clear statement that the Biosafety Protocol (allowing countries to refuse the release of GM seeds) takes precedence over WTO rules. "


  • Be Warned: Para 31 (i) focuses on the Environment and in effect could make all environmental treaties subordinate to WTO by removing disputes from the MEA to WTO, rather than accepting that the MEA should take precedence on relevant matters.
    It also lets the USA off the hook, in its reference to non-parties to MEAs!!

    "TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT
    31. With a view to enhancing the mutual supportiveness of trade and environment, we agree to negotiations, without prejudging their outcome, on:
    (i) the relationship between existing WTO rules and specific trade obligations set out in multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). The negotiations shall be limited in scope to the applicability of such existing WTO rules as among parties to the MEA in question. The negotiations shall not prejudice the WTO rights of any Member that is not a party to the MEA in question;"

    WTO Declaration in full


  • 15 November 00:30 GMT

    LATEST FROM DOHA: WTO Fails Again... or a Triumph?

    Will this now enable a fair and substantive review of TRIPS Article 27.3(b)?

    WTO launches new round despite clear tensions (From Indymedia.org)

    After contentious and prolonged meetings threatened the viability of the WTO's new round of trade talks, delegates were presented with a declaration that they could vote only up or down. Entering the 7th day of what was meant to be a 5-day meeting, the declaration finally passed today.

    The pressure for a successful round following the Seattle, 1999 debacle has forced all sides to agree to terms they may not have otherwise. In the final agreement, the European Union reluctantly agreed to a concession that will "phase out" subsidies to farmers, while many delegates from developing nations argued that the cards are still unfairly stacked against them. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick celebrated, saying "Today the members of the WTO have sent a powerful signal to the world. We have removed the stain of Seattle."

    Developing nations did win a major victory regarding patenting laws. The new TRIPS Agreement, grants nations the right to produce generic medication in case of national health crises. Particularly in Africa, where the AIDS epidemic has spread to over 25% of the African population, this agreement marks a major victory. It will reduce the cost of AIDS medication from $10,000 per year, per person to a mere $250 per year, per person, causing a severe blow to pharmaceutical corporations.

    However, delegates and NGO representatives maintain that the democratic process and underlying premise of the WTO continues to be a major obstacle in developing truly global and sustainable economic progress.



    Reports from the Coalition of Civil Society groups in Doha... and the BBC

    WTO Fails Again: CSO Report...

    BBC News Report: Triumph for world trade talks

  • 14 November 13:30 GMT

    LATEST FROM DOHA via Ruchi: It's 4.30 pm and there is no consensus yet. The committee of the whole just finished, but nothing has yet been agreed. More than 100 countries still want to speak and they each will get a minute or so, but no one is saying that the whole text is not acceptable.....they want some changes in the text.....so a new round with some sort of new issues seems likely.

    The current text on environment is in a way subordinate as there is a mention of MEAs and MTA, but the obligations under WTO will not be changed. 27.3b is intact the way it was - so no gain, no loss.

    No consensus yet, India is holding out on Singapore issues. Let's wait and see what happens. At this stage they cannot let this fail.


  • 14 November, Noon GMT

    DOHA: "The EU emerged as a big winner overnight, after making some concessions on agriculture.

    In return for the EU's concessions, negotiators agreed to stronger language on