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• 20•06•2001 •

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Keeping free access to the world's plant genetic resources for food and agriculture

CSO Sign-on Letters, presented to the CGRFA on 26 June 2001:

CSO sign on letters were presented to the CGRFA on 26 June 2001

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Between June 25 and 30 the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture will finalise the INTERNATIONAL UNDERTAKING on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IU). It is a make-or break meeting.

The following websites provide a lot of background information and should help you to formulate your messages for your contacts and the media: RAFI; GRAIN; UK Agricultural Biodiversity Coalition; Berne Declaration; Greenpeace

CSO Letters to the CGRFA - June 2001

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26 June 2001

To: Members of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IU)


The NGOs observers at the 6th Extraordinary meeting of the CGRFA present these letters to you on behalf of nearly 400 Civil Society Organisations from 60 countries.

We urge you to agree an IU that is a serious contribution to achieving open access and greater equity for present and future generations.



GAIA Foundation

Genetic Engineering Network


Greenpeace International



Via Campesina

26 June 2001

To: Members of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IU)


As civil society organisations, we write to urge you to achieve an equitable, just and comprehensive International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at the Commission meeting in Rome, 25-30 June 2001. This letter complements that which was sent in April to the Chair's Contact Group by 327 organisations from 59 countries.

This crucial international agreement now stands at the brink of a precipice, and the stakes could not be higher. Private greed could push the IU off the precipice in the name of a "progressive step forward".

If you fail to achieve agreement, it will for ever afterwards be impossible to claw back to already negotiated safe ground. The future will be one of increasing privatisation of the genetic resources upon which global food security depends. This will result in an accelerating loss of agricultural biodiversity, the loss of public genebanks, and a further threat to publicly-funded agricultural research and development. Most perverse of all would be the loss of farmers’ access to, control over, and free use and exchange of the plant genetic resources which they have evolved over the centuries. Already there has been massive genetic erosion and failure would increase this and lead to further environmental degradation, destruction of millions of livelihoods, increasing food insecurity and destitution.

If you succeed, then for the first time there can be full legal protection to keep open access to these life-systems, which underpin food security.

Nor should recent positional changes by the commercial seed industry distract attention from the public interest.

As you contemplate these scenarios, you should be aware that the eyes of farmers, agricultural researchers, anti-poverty organisations and environmental conservation and international development groups are upon your deliberations. We urge you not to allow private greed to kill the IU nor allow a small number of dissenting countries acting against the global public interest to undermine the IU and let it fall from the precipice.

We therefore urge you to strengthen the IU once and for all to ensure that it is a serious contribution to achieving open access and greater equity for present and future generations:

  • We will not accept an agreement in which access to Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) is restricted by Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and patents nor which supports the concept of IPRs on PGRFA;
  • We want it to include all the major crops essential for food security
  • We want an agreement that includes a fair sharing of benefits from the commercial use of PGRFA and programmes for PGRFA Conservation
  • We want greater recognition of farmers' contributions and improved benefits through, for example, a re-opening of Article 9 on Farmers’ Rights and commending the issue to the Right to Food negotiations at the UN High Commission on Human Rights - specific time must be set aside within the Commission’s meeting to achieve this

With this strengthening we will look forward to your achievement of an IU which can be presented for ratification by the FAO Conference in November 2001.

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April 2001

To: Members of the Chairman’s Contact Group negotiating the International Undertaking

cc Members of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IU)


We are writing as Civil Society organisations concerned that access to genetic resources for food and agriculture is maintained and that it is not restricted by Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). We believe that the IU has the potential to ensure this.

We wish to urge you and all members of the Contact Group to do all you can to achieve successful negotiations on the IU in your next meeting in Spoleto. Time is running out but agreement is within your grasp if you focus on the important issues and are not distracted by minority views. An agreement supported by a majority of countries would be an acceptable first step.

We trust that you have secured the commitment to “conclude negotiations by a fixed date” that Ambassador Gerbasi requested of you at the FAO Council. As you will be very aware, that date has, in effect, arrived if you are to fulfil the Council’s request for a finalised IU to be presented to the next FAO Conference. We urge you to agree sufficient text in Spoleto this month to enable an Extraordinary Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture to conclude negotiations on the IU and present this to the FAO Conference in November 2001.

You are aware of the key issues that need resolution: Access; Commercial Benefit Sharing; Financing; the List of Crops that will be covered by the IU to include all those which are of global importance for food security. Our views on these have been widely circulated among Contact Group members and are available on various websites [1].

Because these vital genetic resources are drawn from a multitude of countries, the IU’s Multilateral System of access, free from IPRs and other restricting mechanisms, is vital for all who want to improve crops, including farmers. As you know, without the IU there would be a need for costly and ultimately unworkable sets of bilateral arrangements in which all would lose out.

Our insistence is that you negotiate a just, equitable and effective IU that facilitates universal access to those genetic resources essential for food and agriculture:

  • we will not accept an agreement in which access is restricted by IPRs;
  • we want to see you include a list of at least 30 genera of crops essential for food security
  • we want you to re-open Article 15 on Farmers’ Rights and/or commend the issue to the Right to Food negotiations at UNHCHR.

Our colleagues will be attending the next Contact Group meeting as observers and all our organisations and networks are watching the outcome: increased public attention is being brought to bear on these negotiations – you must not fail. Global food security and the livelihoods of millions of rural households depend on your work in Spoleto: do not abdicate your responsibilities.

Yours sincerely


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Al Grupo de Contacto convocado por el Presidente de la Comisión de Recursos Genéticos para la Alimentación y la Agricultura de la FAO

Abril 2001

Compromiso Internacional sobre Recursos Fitogeneticos para la Alimentación y la Agricultura


Los que suscribimos, miembros de organizaciones de la sociedad civil, estamos profundamente preocupados por mantener el acceso amplio a los recursos genéticos para la alimentación y la agricultura y que éste no sea restringido por sistemas de propiedad intelectual. Creemos que el Compromiso Internacional tiene la capacidad de garantizarlo.

Solicitamos a ustedes y a todos los miembros del Grupo de Contacto que hagan sus mejores esfuerzos para el éxito de las negociaciones sobre el Compromiso en la próxima reunión en Spoletto.

Cada vez hay menos tiempo, pero aún pueden lograr un acuerdo si se enfocan en los temas realmente importantes y no permiten que las negociaciones se desvíen por las perspectivas de una minoría. Un acuerdo apoyado por la mayoría de los países sería un primer paso aceptable.

Confiamos en que cumplirán con el compromiso de “concluir negociaciones para una fecha fija” que el Embajador Gerbasi les requirió en el Consejo de la FAO.

Estamos seguros que son concientes de que esa fecha ha llegado, para poder cumplir con la solicitud del Consejo de presentar a la próxima Conferencia de la FAO un texto negociado del Compromiso Internacional. Preocupados por la situación, les urgimos a que en Spoletto lleguen a un texto suficientemente consensado para posibilitar una sesión Extraordinaria de la Comisión de Recursos Genéticos para la Alimentación y la Agricultura de la FAO con el fin de concluir las negociaciones y presentar este texto a la Conferencia de la FAO en noviembre del 2001.

Sabemos que están al tanto de los temas claves que necesitan ser resueltos: acceso, distribución equitativa de beneficios, financiamiento, lista de cultivos que deben ser cubiertos en el Compromiso Internacional incluyendo todos aquellos que son de importancia global para la seguridad alimentaria. Hemos circulado ampliamente nuestros puntos de vista sobre estos temas a los miembros del Grupo de Contacto, y están disponibles en varios sitios de internet [1].

Un sistema multilateral de acceso, claramente fuera del alcance de derechos de propiedad intelectual y otros mecanismos restrictivos, es vital para todo quien quiera mejorar los cultivos, incluidos los y las agricultores/as, ya que estos recursos genéticos de vital importancia están distribuidos en muchos países. Como saben, sin el Compromiso Internacional, se necesitarían costosos acuerdos bilaterales, que en última instancia no se podrán implementar, y en los que todos perdemos.

Insistimos en que deben negociar un acuerdo para un Compromiso Internacional que sea justo, efectivo y equitativo; y que facilite el acceso universal a todos los recursos genéticos esenciales para la alimentación y la agricultura:

  • no aceptaremos un acuerdo en el que el acceso se vea restringido por derechos de propiedad intelectual
  • demandamos que incluyan una lista de un mínimo de 30 géneros de cultivos esenciales para la seguridad alimentaria.
  • demandamos que se reabra la discusión del Artículo 15 sobre los Derechos de los y las Agricultores/as en concordancia con lo anterior, y/o que este tema sea encomendado a las negociaciones sobre Derecho a la Alimentación del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos.

Nuestros colegas participarán en la próxima reunión del Grupo de Contacto, como observadores, y todas nuestras organizaciones y redes están pendientes de los resultados: la atención pública sobre estas negociaciones está en alerta -no pueden fracasar. La seguridad alimentaria en el planeta y el sustento de millones de personas dependen de su trabajo en Spoletto: no abdiquen de su responsabilidad.



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SVP signez et faites suivre cette lettre aux ONG et Organisations d'Agriculteurs de votre réseau.

Chers amis,

Entre les 23 et 28 avril prochains le Groupe de Contact de l’Engagement international sur les Ressources Génétiques Alimentaires pour l'Alimentation et l'Agriculture (l’Engagement international) se rencontrera à Spoleto (Italie). Nos collègues Pat Mooney (RAFI) et Henk Hobbelink (GRAIN) seront présents comme observateurs des CSO, lors de la prochaine réunion. Cette rencontre est cruciale, d'une part, la question des droits de propriétés sur les semences doit y être débattue, d'autre part, les négociations doivent franchir une étape importante si nous voulons que naisse un accord international juridiquement contraignant qui garantisse que les ressources génétiques des principales plantes alimentaires resteront dans le domaine public.

Un groupe d'ONG travaillant de longue date sur les questions touchant à l’Engagement international y compris RAFI, GRAIN, IATP, ITDG et la Déclaration de Berne se sont réunies pour mettre au point une campagne de pression en direction des Membres du Groupe de Contact mais aussi sensibiliser le grand public. Si comme nous, vous voulez que les ressources génétiques ne puissent pas faire l'objet d'une prise de brevet qui en réduirait l'accès et pour montrer aux négociateurs que la société civile les surveillent, nous vous demandons de "signer" cette lettre au nom de votre organisation (une simple réponse par E-mail suffira). La lettre avec la liste des signataires sera envoyé aux négociateurs le 18 avril prochain.

Merci de renvoyer votre soutien en stipulant le nom de votre organisation et votre pays d'origine à <> au plus tard le 17 avril.

N'importe quelle campagne de presse que vous pourrez organiser qui se fasse l'écho de nos demandes sera la bienvenue. Les sites internet suivants peuvent vous fournir toute l'information nécessaire pour vous aider, si vous le souhaiter, à formuler votre message en direction des médias :

RAFI <> GRAIN <> La Coalition anglaise pour une Diversité Agricole <> La Déclaration de Berne <>

En résumé : l’Engagement international est un Accord International juridiquement contraignant important dont les objectifs sont de garantir pour les ressources génétiques des plantes alimentaires les plus importantes :

  • Une interdiction de solliciter une protection de propriété intellectuelle ou de déposer un brevet sur celles-ci
  • Un accès facilité
  • Une conservation et une utilisation durable
  • Un partage équitable des bénéfices de leur utilisation commerciale entre les agriculteurs des pays en voie de développement

l’Engagement international peut devenir un modèle de gestion mondiale responsable qui montre qu'on peut prendre en compte les besoins sociaux pour traiter de l'accès aux ressources génétiques. La liste des ressources couvertes par l’Engagement international est notre "assurance vie" en cas d'évènements catastrophiques futurs qui résulteraient d'un changement de climat, d'une guerre, de développements industriels ou de l'effondrement d'un écosystème.

Un échec de ces négociations pourrait avoir des conséquences très sérieuses et les ONG qui depuis sept années les suivent concluent qu'en cas d'échec :

  • Une sévère et rapide réduction aurait lieu dans la diversité génétique des plantes alimentaires disponibles pour les agriculteurs et les reproducteurs au niveau des collections internationales, nationales et locales ;
  • Il y aurait une accélération dans le déclin de la biodiversité agricole de l'exploitation , selon certaines sources, plus de 90 % des variétés agricoles ont disparue depuis le siècle dernier ;
  • Les bénéfices que les agriculteurs du monde entier sont en droit de toucher pour leur contribution au développement et à la conservation de ces ressources génétiques leurs seraient refusés ;
  • La sécurité alimentaire et l'existence des agriculteurs marginaux mais également celles des consommateurs du monde entier qui dépendent de ces ressources génétiques seraient mis en danger ;

Nous espérons recevoir de vos nouvelles et si vous avez besoin d'information complémentaire sur la lettre, au sujet de la presse ou sur le processus n'hésiter pas à nous contacter.

François Meienberg, La Déclaration de Berne <>

Patrick Mulvany, ITDG <>

Avril 2001

A l'attention des Membres du Groupe de Contact du Président négociant l’Engagement international

Copie : Aux Membres de la Commission des Ressources Génétiques pour l'Alimentation et l'Agriculture de la FAO

L'Engagement International sur les Ressources Génétiques pour l'Alimentation et l'Agriculture (l’Engagement international)


Nous vous écrivons en tant qu'organisations de la société civile qui sommes convaincus que l'accès aux ressources génétiques pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture doit être maintenu et non pas limité par des Droits de Propriétés Intellectuels (DPI). Nous pensons que l’Engagement international a la capacité d'assurer ce droit.

Nous en appelons à votre bienveillance et à celle de l'ensemble des membres du Groupe de Contact afin que lors de votre prochaine réunion à Spoleto, tout soit tenté pour que les négociations en cours dans le cadre de l’Engagement international soient couronnées de succès. Certes, le temps commence à manquer, mais un accord est à porté de la main si vous vous concentrez sur les points importants et si vous ne vous laissez pas distraire par une minorité de pays. Un accord soutenu par une majorité d'Etats serait une première étape acceptable pour tous.

Nous sommes certains que vous entendez respecter l'engagement de :" conclure les négociations à une date définie" qui vous a été demandé par l'Ambassadeur Gerbasi lors du Conseil de la FAO. Comme vous le savez trop bien, si vous avez décider de suivre la demande du Conseil de lui fournir un Engagement international prêt à être présenté à la prochaine réunion de la FAO, la date butoir est arrivée. A Spoleto Nous vous demandons instamment de tomber d'accord sur suffisamment de texte pour permettre à une Session Extraordinaire de la Commission des Ressources Génétiques de se réunir pour achever les négociations sur l’Engagement international et ainsi présenter ses conclusions lors de la conférence de la FAO en novembre 2001.

Vous connaissez bien les points cruciaux qui nécessitent une prise de position de votre part : L'accès ; Le Partage des bénéfices Commerciaux ; Le Financement ; la Liste des Plantes qui seront couvertes par l’Engagement international et qui devra inclure toutes celles qui ont une importance majeure pour la sécurité alimentaire. Nos vues sur ces questions ont été largement distribuées à tout les Membres du Groupe de Contact et sont également disponibles sur de nombreux sites internet [1].

C'est parce que ces ressources génétiques proviennent d'une multitude de pays, qu'il est vital pour tous ceux qui veulent améliorer les plantes, y compris les agriculteurs que le Système d'Accès Multilatéral de l’Engagement international soit libre de DPIs et autres mécanismes restrictifs. Comme vous le savez, sans l’Engagement international il serait nécessaire d'avoir recours à de nombreux accords bilatéraux qui seraient en fin de compte inefficaces et à cause desquels tout le monde serait perdant.

Nous insistons pour que vous vous négociez un Engagement international juste, équitable et opérationnel qui facilite l'accès universel aux ressources génétiques indispensables à l'alimentation et à l'agriculture : . Nous n'accepterons pas un accord à cause duquel l'accès à celles-ci est réduit par des DPIs ; . Nous voulons vous voir émettre une liste d'au moins 30 variétés de plantes vitales pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture ; . Nous voulons que vous réouvriez les discussions sur l'Article 15 sur les Droits des Agriculteurs et/ou que cette question soit transférée dans le cadre des négociations en cours sur le Droit à l'Alimentation dans le cadre de la CDHNU.

Nos collègues Pat Mooney et Henk Hobbelink seront présents comme observateurs des CSO, lors de la prochaine réunion du Groupe de Contact et toutes nos organisations et leurs réseaux surveilleront les positions qui y seront prises : L'intérêt du grand public sur ces négociations est entrain de croître. Vous n'avez pas le droit d'échouer. La sécurité alimentaire mondiale et l'existence de millions de familles rurales dépendent de votre travail à Spoleto : Ne fuyez pas vos responsabilités.


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ONG pede assinaturas na carta - Por favor assine e envie para outras ONGs e Organizações de Agricultores

Caros amigos,

Entre os dias 23 e 28 de Abril o Grupo de Contato de negociação do Compromissão Internação de Recursos Genéticos de Plantas para Alimentos e Agricultura (Compromissão Internação) se reunira em Spoleto (Italia). Pat Mooney (RAFI) e Henk Hobelink (GRAIN) também estarão la com observatores CSO. Sera uma reunião crucial, onde a questão dos direitos de propriedade de sementes sera debatida e onde as negociações farão um grande passo se nos assegurarmos um acordo internacional legalmente obrigatorio para a guarda dos recursos genéticos da maioria das plantas do dominio publico mundial.

Um grupo de ONGs ha muito envolvido em trabalhos sobre essa questão no Compromissão Internação, incluindo RAFI, GRAIN, IATP, ITDG e Declaraçao Berne discutirão como aumentar a pressão sobre os membros do Grupo de Contato e sensibilizar a Sociedade Civil. Para mostrar aos negociadores que a Sociedade Civil os esta observando e sublinhar a importância de manter esses recursos genéticos livres dos direitos de propriedade que reduziriam acesso, nos lhe pedimos para assinar essa carta em nome de sua organização (um email confirmando que voce assinou é suficiente). A carta, com todos os assinantes, sera enviada aos negociadores no dia 18 de Abril.

Por favor envie seu endorso com o nome completo de sua organização e o nome do pais onde voce esta localizado para no dia 17 de Abril.

Qualquer aparição na midia que apresente nossas revendicações sobre o Compromissão Internação seria de grande ajuda. Os websites que seguem fornecem as informações necessarias e poderão ajuda-lo a formular suas mensagens para a midia: RAFI <> GRAIN <> UK agricultural Biodiversity Coalition <> Berne Declaration <>

Em breve: O Compromissão Internação é um importante acordo internacional legalmente obrigatorio que tem como objetivo assegurar que para os recursos genéticos das mais importantes plantas alimenticias do mundo existem: interdições de depositar uma proteção de propriedade intelectual ou patente acessos facilitados conservação e utilisação duraveis lucros gerados pelos seus usos comerciais divididos entre agricultores nos paises desenvolvidos.

O Compromissão Internação tem o potencial para ser o primeiro exemplo de gestão mundial responsavel que mostra que se deve levar em consideração as necessidades sociais para tratar o acesso aos recursos genéticos. A lista de recursos cobertos pelo Compromissão Internação é nosso "seguro pela vida" contra futuras adversidades - seja por mudança climatica, guerra, desenvolvimento industrial ou colapso ecologico.

Falhas nessas negociações poderiam ser extremamente sérias. ONGs que têm seguido essa questão nos ultimos 7 anos concluem que uma falha poderia:

Levar rapidamente a uma grande reduçao da diversidade genética das plantas alimenticias acessiveis aos agricultores e reprodutores no que se refere às coleções internacionais, nacionais e locais;

Acelerar o declinio da biodiversidade agricola no campo, onde, de acordo com algumas estimativas, mais de 90% de variedades de plantas desapareceram no ultimo século;

Recusar aos agricultores do mundo os lucros aos quais eles têm direito pela contribuição dada através do desenvolvimento e conservação desses recursos genéticos;

Colocar em perigo a segurança alimenticia nao apenas entre os pequenos agricultores cujas vidas dependem desses recursos mas também entre os consumidores do mundo inteiro.

Nos esperamos ouvir o que voce tem a dizer e também se voce tiver perguntas sobre essa questão, sobre a carta, a cobertura da midia ou sobre o processo, não hesite a nos contactar.

François Meienberg, Declaraçao Berne<>

Patrick Mulvany, ITDG <>


Estamos escrevendo em tanto que organizações de Sociedade Civil por que acreditamos que o acesso aos recursos genéticos de alimentos e agricultura seja mantido e não restringidos pelos Direitos de Propriedade Intelectual (DPIs). Nos acreditamos que Compromissão Internação tem o potencial para assegurar isso.

Nos lhe solicitamos e a todos os membros do Grupo de Contato para que façam tudo o que possam a fim de chegar a uma bem sucedida negociação no Compromissão Internação na sua proxima reunião em Spoleto. O tempo esta passando mas o acordo esta nas nossas maos se voce focalizar nos assuntos importantes e não se distrair com pontos de vista menores. Um acordo apoiado pela maioria dos paises seria uma primeira etapa aceitavel para todos.

Nos acreditamos que voce apoiou o engajamento de "concluir negociações numa data fixa" como o Embaixador Gerbasi lhe pediu no Conselho da FAO. Como você esta consciente, essa data limite chegou se você segue a recomendação do Conselho por que Compromissão Internação seja apresentado na proxima Conferência da FAO. Nos lhe solicitamos para que em Spoleto nesse mês você esteja de acordo com um grande numero de textos afim de permitir à uma Sessão Extraordinaria da Comissão de Recursos Geneticos para a Alimentação e Agricultura de concluir negociações no Compromissão Internação e apresenta-las na Conferência da FAO em novembro de 2001.

Você esta consciente dos acordos que necessitam de resoluções: Acesso; Divisão de Lucros Comerciais; Financiamentos; a Lista de Plantas que serão cobertas pelo Compromissão Internação que deve incluir todas aquelas que são de importancia primordial para a segurança alimenticia. Nossos pontos de vista sobre isso foram bastante divulgados entre os membros do Grupo de Contato e estão disponiveis em varios websites [1].

Como esses recursos genéticos vitais vêm de varios paises, o Sistema de Acesso Multilateral do Compromissão Internação, livre dos Direitos de Propriedade Intelectural e outros mecanismos de restrição, é vital para todos os que desejam melhorar plantas, inclusive agricultores. Como você sabe, sem o Compromissão Internação haveria uma necessidade de caros e numerosos acordos bilaterais que no final das contas nao funcionariam e todo mundo sairia perdendo.

Nos insistimos para que você negocie um justo, equitavel e efetivo Compromissão Internação, que facilite o acesso universal aos recursos genéticos essenciais para a alimentação e agricultura:

Nos não aceitaremos nenhum acordo no qual o acesso seja restringido pelos DPIs;

Nos queremos vê-lo incluir uma lista de pelo menos 30 espécies de plantas essenciais para a segurança alimenticia;

Nos queremos que você reabra o Artigo 15 dis Direitos dos Agricultores e/ou transfira essa questão para as negociações de Direitos Alimenticios no UNHCHR.

Nossos colegas estarão presentes como observadores à ocasião da proxima reunião do Grupo de Contato e todas as nossas organizações e redes esperam conclusões dessa reunião; essas negociações têm chamado cada vez mais a atenção do grande publico - você não deve falhar. Segurança alimenticia global e sobrevivência de milhões de familias rurais dependem do seu trabalho em Spoleto; não abdique de suas responsabilidade.



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Updated list of signatories is also in the following WORD and PDF files. Get WORD 97 documentDownload WORD 97 letter in 3 languages with signatories     Get printable PDF versionDownload PDF letter in 3 languages with signatories.


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Action Aid
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
CGIAR NGO Committee
Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN)
Greenpeace International
Indigenous Peoples' Biodiversity Network
International Partners for Sustainable Agriculture (IPSA)
ITDG (Intermediate Technology Development Group)
Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)
DiverseWomen for Diversity


Coalition of African Organizations for Food Security/Sovereignty and Sustainable Development (COASAD)
International Traditional Healers Organisation

Health and Environment Program

Integrated Social Development Centre

Machobane Agricultural Development Foundation (Helvetas)

Namibian Agronomic Board

Sisters of Charity

Pesticide Action Network (PAN)

South Africa
Safe Food Coalition
Biowatch South Africa

Christian Council of Tanzania

Organic Producers and Processors Association
Sisters of Charity

African Farmers' Organic Research and Training
Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT)
Dr Kingstone Mashingaidze, Africa University


Acción por la Biodiversidad
Centro Ecologista "Renacer"
Iniciativa Arcoiris de Ecologia y Sociedad Grupo de Reflexion Rural
PEUMA Grupo de Accion Ecologico Social

Belize Association of Producer Organizations (BAPO)

AGRUCO Agroecologia Universidad Cochabamba
Asociación mixta de agricultores orgánicos "Mama Killa"
El Comite Civil de Dialogo Heroes de Ocosingo del Frente Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional de San Luis
Foro ecológico y social
Foro Boliviano sobre Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo-FOBOMADE
Fundación Indígena Amauta
PROBIOMA Productividad Biosfera Medio Ambiente

AS-PTA - Assessoria e Servicos a Projetos em Agricultura Alternativa
Associaçâo potiguar Amigos da naturaleza
Centro Ecológico Rio Grande do sul
Consortium Centro Ecológico Ipê/CETAP/CAPAs
Ecoa - Ecologia e Ação
ESPLAR-Centro de Pesquisa e Assessoria
Flavio Luiz Schieck Valente General Coordinator of Agora - Segurança Alimentar e Cidadania
Fundação CEBRAC, Brasil
IBASE - Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analyses
IDEC - Instituto Brasileiro de defesa do Consumidor
InKa - Instituto Kayowa
Mater Natura - Instituto de Estudos Ambientais
Rios Vivos Coalition <

BC Food Systems Network
Biotechnology Consortium
Canadian Council for International Co-operation
GE Free Canada
Inter Pares
Mennonite Central Committee
Organic Food Council of MB
SSND, School Sisters of Notre Dame

Alianza por una mejor calidad de vida Red de Acción en Plaguicidas de Chile
Fundación Sociedades Sustentables
Movimiento Agroecológico de América Latina y Caribe – MAELA

CELA, Centro de Asistencia Legal Ambiental
Centro de Debate y Acción Ambiental
Fundación América Latina
Fundación Mónica Mejía Aragón
Fundación Swissaid - Programa Semillas
Instituto Latinoamericano de Servicios Legales, Ilsa
Instituto Mayor Campesino
PAN-Colombia - Pesticide Action Network
NetworkProceso de Comunidades Negras.PCN

Costa Rica
COECOCeiba-FoE Costa Rica
Grupo Soberania
Mesa Nacional Campesina
Programa Cambios – Universidad Nacional
Rodrigo Carazo Odio, Presidente de Costa Rica (1978-82)
Universidad Nacional Magda Zavala, profesora universitaria, investigadora y escritora

Centro de Estudios de Agricultura Sostenible de la Universidad Agraria de la Habana (CEAS-UNAH).

Republica Dominicana
Comité regional de promoción de la salud comunitaria (CRPSC)
Instituto de Desarrollo de la Economía Asociativa (IDEAC)

Acción Ecológica
Cecilia Chérrez / Aurora Donoso Instituto de Estudios Ecologistas del Tercer Mundo
Rapal Ecuador
Red Interamericana de Agriculturas y Democracia

E-LAW (Environmental Law Alliance Word Wide)
IDEADS (Instituto de Derecho Ambiental y Desarrollo Sustentable)
RODA (Red de organizaciones No Gubernamentales en Derecho Ambiental de Mesoamérica)
TRIGOH (Trinacional Golfo de Honduras - awarded with the Paul Getty Prize 1998)

OFRANEH, Fraternal Organization of Honduran Blacks

Asociacion de Promotores para el Desarrollo Autónomo de los Movimiento Sociales
Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano (CECCAM)
Centro de investigacion y accion de la mujer latinoamericana a.c. (CIAM)
Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental, A.C
Comité regional de promoción de la salud comunitaria (CRPSC)
Cultura Joven A.C
INIFAP Centro Nacional de Investigación para Producción Sostenible Manejo Agroecológico de Plagas Agrícolas
Instituto de Promoción para el Desarrollo Rural A.C.
Lazos para los Suelos, Agua y Semillas de Oaxaca, A.C.
MAELA Movimiento Agroecológico de América Latina y Caribe
Organización red nacional de promotoras y asesoras rurales
NOCON, S.A. DE C.V. Agricultura sustentable y productos biodegradables
RAPAM - Red de Accion sobre Plaguicidas y Alternativas en Mexíco
Red de Permacultura
Sergio H. Aguilar R. Programa Bosque de Niebla y Proyecto Uxpanapa

Amigos de la Tierra
Asociación para el Desarrollo Agroecológico Regional

Centro Humboldt
CISAS - Centro de información y servicios de asesoría en salud
CCER- Coorinadora civil para la emergencia y la reconstruccion
Consejo international de salud de los pueblos
MAELA - Movimiento Agroecológico Latinoamericano y del Caribe

Dirigente indígena

APEC - Asociación de Productores Ecologicos del Centro
Asociación Kechua-Aymara for Sustainable Livelihoods (Peru)
CEAR Centro de Apoyo Rural
Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternativas para América Latina

United States
Africa Faith & Justice Network
Anarchist Action of Rochester
Biotechnology Consortium (Canada and USA)
CA Justice and Peace Committee
Cornucopia Network of New Jersey
Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice
Dr. Kathleen McAfee, Department of Environmental Studies, University of California at Santa Cruz
Edmonds Institute
Flowerfield Enterprises
Food First
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis
Mankato Area Environmentalists
Mennonite Central Committee
Miguel A. Altieri, Ph.D
Mothers for Natural Law
Native Seeds/SEARCH (Southwestern Endangered Aridlands Resources Clearing House
Northwest Resistance Against Genetic Engineering
Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
Pesticide Action Network North America Regional Center (PANNA)
Peter Montague, Ph.D, Director Environmental Research Foundation Annapolis, Maryland
Religious of the Sacred Heart Justice and Peace Commission
Rochester Food Not Bombs
Safe Food Campaign/Organic Consumers Association (Ithaca(NY)-area)
Sisters of the Holy Names
Sussex Society of Public Interest
The Elizabeth Seton Federation
The Organic Consumers Association in the USA
The Ruckus Society
United Church of Christ
University of California, Berkeley ESPM-Division of Insect Biology
W. J. Smith, Center for energy and environmental policy, University of Delaware
Washington Biotechnology Action Council, USA
Western Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

CEUTA (Centro de Estudios Uruguayo de Tecnologías Apropiadas)
COEDUCA (Cooperativa de Educación y Comunicación Alternativas)
Comunidad del Sur ECOSUR
REDES- Friends of the Earth Uruguay

Red de Acción en Alternativas al uso de Agrotóxicos, RAPAL-VE, PAN


Farhad Mazhar, Nayakrsihi Andolon
New Agricultural Movement

CEDAC (Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture)

Consumer Rights, Education and Awareness Trust (CREAT)
Dr.G K Veeresh President, Association for promotion of Organic farming
Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security
Green Foundation
Women's Centre, Bombay

PAN Pesticide Action Network Indonesia

Agriculture Network of Local Government Employees
Consumers Union of Japan
Japan Seed Fund
Network for Safe and Secure Food and Environment

Sisters Global Concerns

International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
Saleem A. Sial,
Sustainable Water Harvesting Project
USC Canada in Nepal

Indus Farming e-Network
ROOTS for Equity

Infanta Integrated Community Development Assistance Inc (ICDAI)
MASIPAG, Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Farmer Scientist Partnership for Development)


ANPED / The Northern Alliance for Sustainability
CPE European Farmers Coordination
Friends of the Earth, Europe

Global 2000
Katholische Frauenbewegung
Koordinierungsstelle der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz für internationale Entwicklung und Mission

Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN)
Agriculture, Drugs and Development
European Fair Trade Association, advocay office
KWIA, Flemish Support Group for Indigenous PeoplesOxfam-Solidarity
Oxfam-Wereldwinkels/Oxfam Fair Trade Flanders
Oxfam Solidarity
Service Civil International

NOAH, Friends of the Earth Denmark

Peoples Biosafety Association

OGM dangers (GMO hazards)Réseau Foi et Justice Afrique-Europe (AEFJN) Antenne de Paris
SDI - Strategic Development Initiative

"No Patents on Life!"
Achim Seiler, Ph.D, Science Center Berlin
AG Landwirtschaft&Ernährung
BUKO Agrar Koordination
Church Development Service - An Association of the Protestant Churches in Germany
Forum Environment and Development
League for Pastoral Peoples
People for Animal Rights
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Köpke, Institute of Organic Agriculture, Bonn
SARD-Mallinckrodt/SARD Prize
Weltladen-Dachverband (German Worldshop Association)
Werkstatt Solidarische Welt, Bildungsstätte der Comboni-Missionare

Inspection & Certification of Organic Products

Biological Farming Association ELKANA
Agrobiodiversity Protection Society DIKA

Mercy International Justice Network
Sisters of Charity
Sisters of Mercy
Society of African Missions

Comitato Scientifico Antivivisezionista (CSA)
Fondo Imperatrice Nuda contro la sperimentazione animale (FIN)

Frères des Hommes

Stichting Zaadgoed, voor biologische veredeling, Seedgood Foundation, for organic plant breeding
XminY Solidarityfunds
Foundation ‘The Court of Eden’
Shawn McGuire Technology and Agrarian Development, Wageningen University
Viola (NGO)

Asociación de monitores de medio ambiente
Colectivo liberación
Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CC.OO.)
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Coordinador de Ecologistas en Acción del País Valenciano
Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Agricultores y Ganaderos COAG
Ecologistas en Acción
Ecoloxista d'Asturies
Instituto de Productos Naturales y Agrobiología (IPNA)
Instituto Sindical de Trabajo, Ambiente y Salud (ISTAS)
Plataforma Rural
Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible d'EUPV
Sociedad Española de Agricultura Ecológica (SEAE)
Veterinarios Sin Fronteras

Swedish Society for Nature Conservation

Ärztinnen und Ärzte für Umweltschutz
Basler Appell gegen Gentechnologie
Berne Declaration
Blueridge Institute
CCD-UMES-FZLN, Comite Civil De Dialogo del Frente Zapatista De Liberacion Nacional
FIAN – Section Suisse
International Traditional Healers Organisation – Geneva Office
Keine Patente auf Leben
L'Antenne suisse du Réseau Foi et Justice Afrique-Europe
NOGERETE, Frauen gegen Gen- und Reproduktionstechnologie
Pro Specie Rara
Sativa Rheinau GmbH, Rheinau
Schweizer MIVA
Swiss Coalition of Development Organisations (SCDO)
Pro Natura - Friends of the Earth Switzerland
Swiss Labour Assistance / Schweizer Arbeiterhilfswerk (SLA/SAH)

United Kingdom
Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network
Biodynamic Agricultural Association
British Province of the Missionaries of Africa
CAFOD Catholic Fund for Overseas Development
Centre for Food Policy
Christian Aid
CIIR Catholic Institute for International Relations
Corner House
Devizes & Marlborough Friends of the Earth.
Elm Farm Research Centre
English Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers
Farmers Link
Gaia Foundation
Gaia Trust
Genetics Forum
Genetic Engineering Alliance
Genetic Food Alert UK
HDRA (Henry Doubleday Research Organisation)
Institute of Our Lady of Mercy
Land Heritage
Mairead Philbin and all the Sisters of Charity St. Joseph's
Marist Brothers UK
Mill Hill Missionaries
National Federation of Women's Institutes, England & Wales (240,000 members)
Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin)
Permaculture Association
Pesticide Action Network UK
Poor Servants of the Mother of God
Religious of the Assumption
Religious Sisters of Charity, Shepherd's Bush
Susila Dharma Britain
Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Ph.D. Food Security (UK), Sustainable Agriculture and Biodiversity Programme
Scarborough Against Genetic Engineering (SAGE)
SEEDS Social Equity and Environmental Democracy
Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace
Social Justice Co-ordinator of Conference of Religious for England and Wales
Society of the Sacred Heart
Soil Association
Sr. Barbara Porter RSCJ
Swindon Friends of the Earth
The Land is Ours
WGTRR; Working Group on Traditional Resource Rights
World Hunger Year (WHY)


Australian Conservation Foundation
Consumer Food Network, Australia
Environment Centre of the Northern Territory
GE-Free Bathurst
GE-Free Tasmania
GeneEthics Network
Heritage Seed Curators Australia Inc.
Places for Living
South Australian Genetic Food Information Network

New Zealand
Fair NZ
Kay Weir
Mercy International Justice Network
Nelson GE Awareness Group
Pacific Institute of Resource Management, Wellington
Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics
Sisters of Mercy

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A Treaty to Save the World's Seeds for the Benefit of All may Fall at the Last Hurdle

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At the end of June, the World's governments will meet in FAO Rome to conclude negotiations on a legally-binding agreement that will govern the use of the crop seed varieties and genetic resources which underpin global and local food security. It is urgently required because of the rapid loss of these varieties-- more than 75% in the past century-- and because of the increasing use of intellectual property rights to claim sole ownership over crop seeds and their genes, which is restricting farmers’ access.

This agreement is called the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, or IU for short. It covers many of the major food crops in the world. It aims to ensure the conservation, sustainable use and ‘free flow’ of the genetic resources of these crops so that they are "preserved… and freely available for use, for the benefit of present and future generations". It recognises Farmers' Rights to access and use seeds.

It also ensures that when these genetic resources are used commercially by industrialised countries for plant breeding or food, farmers in developing countries receive a fair share of the profits generated, in return for their contribution to the crops’ development.


For centuries, farmers have developed crop varieties within their diversified agricultural systems - varieties to suit every possible social, economic and environmental requirement. This has been achieved through the free exchange of seeds between farmers who, by planting them in different conditions thereby generate greater diversity .Under challenging conditions, this diversity provides greater food security by spreading risk through the use of many different varieties. The food security of two thirds of humanity is still based on these traditional agricultural technologies and seed exchanges rather than industrial agriculture.

Furthermore, the hundreds of thousands of local varieties of the main food crops developed by these farmers constitute an invaluable part of the world’s agricultural biodiversity, which the international community has pledged to protect. Under the Convention on Biological Diversity it is recognised that this conservation must be an active process of sustainable use by farmers in their fields – in other words, farmers are the custodians of this vital source of food and ecological security and manage this on behalf of us all.

At present, the IU only covers 30 food crops. It should cover all those food crops that are important for food security - some 100 or more crops.


Two substantial problems arise.

First, 'Biopiracy’ is rife. Intellectual Property Rights regimes create private ownership rights which remove locally adapted varieties from communal ownership and exchange, threatening future development of these varieties. Universities and corporations are claiming unjustifiable intellectual property rights on them, and industry is now seeking to extend the IPR system as far as it can to seize control of the genes contained in these varieties.

The commercial seed industry held its World Seed Congress in South Africa in May 2001 and, under pressure from the Canadian and US governments, has hardened its attitude against the IU, reneging on its support for "commercial benefit sharing" -- that is, paying back a little of the profits it makes from the genetic resources into a system which helps conserve them.

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) regard this as unacceptable and urge countries to stand firm in their demand that those who benefit from the commercial use of genetic resources should pay. These negotiations are meaningless if there are no tangible benefits to farmers in developing countries, who are guardians of these resources.

Second, some Latin American countries are failing to recognise the essential need for a multilateral agreement to cover the complex international composition and origin of most crop plants' genes, which know no national boundaries. These countries prefer to cling on to bilateral deals between countries despite the fact that the stronger always wins. CSOs see no benefit for the world's farmers and consumers in bilateral agreements and criticise those who are destroying the agreement for the unrealisable dream of potential national gain. The views of these countries fly in the face of nearly 10 years of international debate that has recognised the distinctive nature of these crop genetic resources requiring different, multilateral treatment because of their complex cross-boundary nature.


US pressure on the seed industry is part of a concerted attempt to stall or dilute the IU negotiations. These have come close to collapse since November 2000, with the US and its allies repeatedly trying to re-open negotiations in areas which are already agreed by a majority of countries.

If the IU is not achieved there will be serious consequences for:

  • farmers’ livelihoods
  • conservation of agricultural biodiversity
  • food security
  • the future of public gene banks
  • · and the implementation of the 20 point Leipzig Global Plan of Action that would deliver benefits especially to developing countries for the conservation and development of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) - the crop seed varieties and genetic resources which underpin global food security.

Failure would result in paralysis of the free flow of genetic resources for food and agriculture, as they become increasingly privatised and controlled by the private sector. By privatising, access and use are inhibited, which stops the free-flow of crop genetic resources that are the very basis of their evolution.


The IU will provide the mechanism for benefits to be shared with farmers. It will also keep these vital resources in the public domain -- free from privatisation and dominant commercial control. This includes the half a million samples of crops and forage species taken from farmers and already held in trust in international genebanks by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research centres – as well as the many hundreds of thousands of varieties in national collections and farmers fields.

The International Undertaking on plant genetic resources (IU) will be legally binding. It will be governed under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). All countries will have the right to participate in its governance together with Civil Society.

Furthermore, the IU has the potential to be a prime example of responsible global governance, ensuring that those genetic resources which underpin social needs are maintained in the public domain. This agricultural biodiversity is our ‘life insurance’ against future adversity be it from climate change, war, industrial developments or ecosystem collapse. As these threats grow, so does the need to maintain the free-flow of seeds and thereby the agricultural biodiversity on which we will be even more dependant on in times of instability.

Thus, if agreed, the IU should:

  • assure food security in the long term
  • recognise the enormous contribution that farmers all over the world have made to the conservation and development of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) and implement Farmers' Rights,
  • ensure the continuity of their work in the future, through returning a fair share of the benefits from the commercial use of PGRFA for plant breeding and food is returned to developing countries, who provide the capital base for food security
  • give traditional farmers' knowledge the same status as scientific plant breeding
  • include the distinctive requirements of PGRFA in the Convention on Biological Diversity
  • conserve the enormous but rapidly decreasing diversity of PGRFA developed by farmers over centuries
  • · keep PGRFA in the Public Domain.


CSOs insist governments should achieve a just, equitable and effective IU that facilitates universal access to the genetic resources essential for food and agriculture.

  • We will not accept an agreement in which seeds are privatised;
  • It should include all the major crops essential for food security
  • The agreement should include a fair sharing of benefits from the commercial use of PGRFA and programmes for PGRFA Conservation in order to preserve the resource-base of our food
  • We want greater recognition of farmers' contributions and improved benefits through, for example, reopening Article 9 on Farmers’ Rights and commending the issue to the Right to Food negotiations at the UN High Commission on Human Rights


From 25 to 30 June, 160 governments will be locked in final negotiations in the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy. CSOs observing these proceedings will be reporting regularly on Governments' performance (see

Failure is unacceptable and irresponsible - present and future generations are depending on you.

For further information see:,,,,

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