International Seed Federation News and Notes

Nyon, Switzerland (May 2, 2024) - The International Seed Federation (ISF), represented by IP and Legal Affairs Manager Szonja Csörgő together with members of the ISF Coordination Group - Genetic Resources Tom Nickson, Ludovic Paris, Nicolas Perrin, Jasmina Muminovic, and Catherine Langat (permanent observer), attended the open-ended Working Group meeting on April 16-18 at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, to further discuss potential solutions to the three hotspots. 

The main progress so far:

  • Annex I: There seems to be support for an expansion of the Annex but views still differ regarding the modalities — i.e. whether the expansion should be a full one, covering all plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, with national exceptions; or whether it should be a partial one, resulting in a limited list of crops but with more crops than the current Annex.
  • DSI: Most members of the WG seem to be in favor of having a solution for DSI related to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture under the Treaty, and not wait for the CBD to come up with a solution. However, it is still unclear how this would unfold and what DSI would actually be covered. There is much work still needed to be done to increase understanding on this topic amongst all stakeholders involved in the discussion.
  • Payment mechanisms and rates: While there remains a clear majority support for developing a subscription system as the main access and benefit-sharing mechanism of the future SMTA, there are still diverging views on whether this should be combined with a payment mechanism based on commercialization or whether the subscription system should be the only mechanism in the future. The question of payment rates is linked to the mechanisms and was not touched upon during the April meeting of the WG.

The next meeting is scheduled for September when the Co-Chairs want to start discussing the revised SMTA text. In order to gather input for this exercise, the Treaty Secretariat will request input from Contracting Parties and stakeholder groups in the coming weeks. The ISF Coordination Group on Genetic Resources will work on the ISF input during the meetings in Rotterdam.

18th Commission for Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) highlights the role of international collaboration to manage plant pests and diseases

ISF Phytosanitary Affairs Manager Rose Souza Richards attended the 18th Commission for Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) as an Observer at the FAO Headquarters in Rome from April 15-19. This year, the session highlighted the critical role of managing plant pests and diseases in the face of climate change.

The CPM’s efforts in promoting early detection and international collaboration are vital to combat pests like Fusarium Tropical Race 4 (TR4). Discussions on integrated pest management and the significance of plant health in achieving the SDGs reflect the CPM's commitment to sustainable agriculture and food security.

Key outcomes included anticipated amendments to phytosanitary standards and the endorsement of the Africa Phytosanitary Program. The success of the IPPC ePhyto Solution, with over five million ePhyto certificates exchanged, also marked a significant advancement in ensuring safe trade and food security globally. FAO Director-General QU Dongyu noted that the journey towards food security begins with robust plant health standards.

Watch this video on this topic prepared by FAO.

Representing the tree seed industry, ISF Sustainability and Crop Value Chain Manager Ben Rivoire attended the OECD Forest Seed and Plant Scheme Technical Working Group Meeting in Sweden.

Forests are important contributors to biodiversity and carbon sequestration and an important source of employment for many countries. The OECD Rules on Forest Reproductive Materials (FRM) helps maintain high-quality standards to answer the needs and expectations of all stakeholders.

A forest-dominated country, almost 70% of Sweden’s total surface is covered by forests. Every year, around 400 million plants are produced and planted by local actors. More than 95% of those plants come from seed, with the rest coming from vegetative propagation. Continuous genetic improvements have helped plant breeders deliver high-quality planting materials and seedlings to the forest value chain.

ISF joins 1st Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on PVP and Biodiversity held in Bangkok

On April 23-25, ISF joined the first APSA Regional Consultation on Plant Variety Protection (PVP) and biodiversity in Bangkok, Thailand, actively contributing to all three days with several presentations on intellectual property (IP) and access and benefit-sharing (ABS) matters that helped to kick-start the discussions. 

Officials from different countries within the Asia region attended the consultation, along with representatives of companies and national seed associations. Key discussions during the consultation included improving the regulatory environment to enable the seed sector to continue innovating and providing solutions to existing and emerging challenges. The consultation has proven that such exchanges are beneficial for all stakeholders involved. 

The event was spearheaded by APSA’s Standing Committee on International Property Rights and Biodiversity, with the support of ISF and CropLife Asia, and sustained cooperation with the USDA under the Mekong US Partnership.