Introduction

There is growing international consensus on the urgency of slowing the human-induced deterioration of biodiversity, a deterioration that may be coming at high costs to present and future generations. Indeed, within the United Nations System, the adoption of the International Undertaking (IU) on Plant Genetic Resources in 1983, and of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, was motivated by the goal of maintaining sustainability and diversity of species and ecosystems. In addition to issues regarding wild

The author thanks Rick Horan, Michigan State University, and Eric Van Dusen, University of California, Berkeley, for their input. The views contained herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent policies or views of the Economic Research Service or United States Department of Agriculture.

species diversity, the Convention also recognizes the particular importance of biodiversity of relevance for food and agriculture. In 1993 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) adopted a resolution requesting member countries to negotiate—through the FAO inter-governmental Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA—the revision of the IU in harmony with the CBD. The Third Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention also decided to establish a multi-year programme of activities on agricultural biological diversity with the aims of: (1) promoting the positive effects and mitigating the negative impacts of agricultural practices on biological diversity in agroecosystems and their interface with other ecosystems; (2) promoting the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources of actual or potential value for food and agriculture; and (3) promoting the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources (COP, 1997).

Benefit sharing is also called for under the IU's endorsement of the concept of Farmers' Rights, which aims to, inter alia, "allow farmers, their communities, and countries in all regions, to participate fully in the benefits derived, at present and in the future, from the improved use of plant genetic resources." A major observation underlying the negotiations is that agricultural biodiversity "hotspots" tend to be in the developing world, while modern commercial varieties based on plant and genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFAs) from these hotspots tend to be developed and marketed by developed countries. As such, many promoters of the Undertaking assert that developed countries are benefiting more from the utilization of PGRFAs from developing countries than do the developing countries themselves, and that these developing countries are not being compensated in return for use of these resources. As touched upon already in Chapter 1, enough concern has developed internationally over the need to conserve agricultural genetic resources that in April 1999, the 161-member nations of the UN-based CGRFA agreed that a multilateral system of access and benefit sharing should be established for key crops, with proposals for payment for conservation of agricultural genetic resources in developing countries. This proposal falls under the auspices of the IU on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which is the first comprehensive international agreement dealing with PGFRAs. The IU is an evolving international agreement related to the Convention of Biodiversity (COB), yet a separate agreement in its own right (e.g., some countries that are a party to the CGRFA are not a party to the COB). According to the proposal, financing of the Global Plan of Action for the conservation and sustainable development of plant genetic resources will cost the international community an estimated US$155 to $455 million annually (CGRFA, 1999). In November 2001, the 161-member nations of CGRFA agreed that a multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing should be established for key crops and approved the legally binding

International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. This international treaty—hereafter denoted by IT—entered into force on June 29, 2004.

The IT's objectives "are the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their use, in harmony with the CBD, for sustainable agriculture and food security" (CGRFA, undated). Under the IT, countries agree to establish a multilateral system for facilitating access to PGRFAs, and to share the benefits in a fair and equitable way. The multilateral system applies to approximately 60 major crops and forages as listed in the IT's annex. The governing body of the IT, which is composed of the countries that have ratified it, will set out the conditions for access and benefit-sharing in a "Material Transfer Agreement" (MTA). PGRFAs may be obtained from the multilateral system for utilization and conservation in research, breeding, and training. When a commercial product is developed using these resources, the IT provides for payment of an "equitable share" of the resulting monetary benefits, if this product may not be used without restriction by others for further research and breeding. If others may use it, payment is voluntary.

The Treaty provides for sharing the benefits of using PGRFA through information-exchange, access to and the transfer of technology, capacity-building, through the sharing of monetary benefits as mentioned above, and through financial contributions (Articles 13.2 and 18.4). The IT foresees that funds received under the multilateral system "should flow primarily, directly and indirectly, to farmers in all countries, especially in developing countries, and countries with economies in transition, who conserve and sustainably utilize plant genetic resources for food and agriculture" (Article 13.4). While the general funding principles are laid out in the treaty (articles 18 and 19), specifics of who pays, and how much, are not laid out.2

This chapter discusses the concept of the economic value of the contribution of PGRFAs to commercial and other uses of plant genetic resources, identifies proxies for this measure that can be used to determine the relative contribution of each country to the benefits-sharing fund, and evaluates the suitability of each proxy to this task. Given political realities and the lack of existing data on benefits, the level of total annual contributions to this fund will be determined through a multilateral negotiation process that is independent of any estimates of the value of PGRFAs. Hence, a goal of this chapter is to discuss how, given the existing data, each country's relative contribution to this fund

1 PGRFAs consist of the diversity of genetic material contained in all domestic cultivars as well as wild plant relatives and other wild plant species and plant matter (germplasm) that are used in the breeding of new varieties either through traditional breeding or through modern biotechnology techniques.

2 See CGFRA (undated) for further details.

can be as highly (and positively) correlated as possible with each country's benefits from utilizing a defined set of PGRFAs as well as satisfy equity considerations. Since country contributions will be of a monetary form, the focus of this chapter will be on the economic value of PGRFAs.

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