The Plant Treaty

The Crop Trust is recognized as an essential element of the funding strategy of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was adopted by the Thirty-First Session of the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on 3 November 2001.

 The Treaty aims to:

  • recognize the enormous contribution of farmers to the diversity of crops that feed the world;
  • establish a global system to provide farmers, plant breeders and scientists with access to plant genetic materials;
  • ensure that recipients share benefits they derive from the use of these genetic materials with the countries where they have been originated.

Making an asset of interdependence

The Plant Treaty cemented the special status of the CGIAR’s in-trust crop collections, ensuring these would continue to be available to all. But it went much further than that. It declared that 64 of our most important crops – which together account for 80% of humanity’s food supply – would be brought into the same multilateral system, along with many of their wild relatives. All contracting parties would make their collections of this diversity available to everyone.

Under the Plant Treaty, breeders can easily obtain and work with material of these crop families from more than 130 countries. In many cases they will do something innovative with it, such as create a new variety by combining lines from different parts of the world. Anyone who does so agrees that they will, in turn, make the derived variety freely available – or if they use it to develop a commercial product, that they will pay a percentage of profits into a special benefit sharing fund.

A Relationship Agreement between the Governing Body of the Plant Treaty and the Crop Trust was approved at the Governing Body’s first meeting in 2006. This recognized the Crop Trust as an essential element of the funding strategy of the Treaty. It also established four seats on the Crop Trust’s Executive Board to be appointed by the Governing Body, while confirming the Board’s executive independence in managing the operations and activities of the Crop Trust. Working together makes sense when our goals are the same. The International Treaty and its predecessors created the context of cooperation in which we operate, and we are creating a global system that can turn interdependence into a shared wealth of possibilities.

Banner: Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis