Congress Makes History, Ratifies Long-Awaited Treaty Tied to Global Food Security

  • On September 29, 2016

Alexandria, Va.—September 29, 2016— Congress made history last night by passing a broadly supported Treaty to strengthen American agriculture and enhance global food security. First signed by President George W. Bush, and pending for nearly 15 years, the now ratified International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (“The Treaty”) will ensure U.S. public and private sector plant breeders have secure access to global plant materials as they work to develop the next generation of plant varieties to meet the needs of a growing population. 

”The Treaty is a win for the American seed industry and for agriculture innovation around the world,” said ASTA President & CEO Andrew W. LaVigne. “Ratification of the Treaty has been one of ASTA’s top legislative priorities for the past decade and has been supported by a wide range of agriculture and scientific organizations and universities. The Treaty will ensure U.S. public and private plant breeders have secure access to the materials they need to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges – from evolving plant pests and diseases, to changing climates, and feeding a growing population.” 

The technical, international agreement facilitates the access and exchange of materials used to improve germplasm (seeds)–the backbone of agricultural innovation. Under the Treaty, a Standard Material Transfer Agreement ensures that the terms for access to germplasm are uniform and transparent for all contracting parties.

“The Treaty establishes consistent, transparent criteria for plant breeders to protect and exchange plant material as they develop new, improved varieties for farmers around the world,” said LaVigne. “Important meetings of the Treaty are taking place early next year, and we’re glad the U.S. will finally have a seat at the table to protect its interests and lend its expertise.”

For more information on the Treaty, see ASTA’s briefing paper and testimony from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in May, 2016.