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FAO forum approves key plant diversity treaty, first budget increase in 8 years

FAO forum approves key plant diversity treaty, first budget increase in 8 years

The governing Conference of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has concluded its session in Rome after adopting a key treaty on diversity of plant resources and approving the agency's first budget increase in eight years.

In a statement released today, FAO said that a major success of the Conference was the approval of an International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture intended to ensure access to plant genetic diversity while taking into consideration the needs of farmers and plant breeders. The treaty is considered a significant step towards guaranteeing the future availability of the diversity of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture on which farmers and breeders depend, as well as a fair and equitable sharing of benefits.

At the conclusion of the session on Tuesday, the participating agriculture ministers and senior officials voted a budget totaling $651.8 million for 2002-03 – an increase of $1.8 million over the previous biennium. The Conference also authorized the use of additional amounts up to $50 million from the $95 million expected during the next two years in the form of payments of arrears by the major contributor.

At the same time, the forum approved a new scale of contributions that included a reduction of the ceiling of contributions of FAO Member States for the period 2002-03, a decision based on the new scale of contributions adopted by the UN General Assembly. Under the new scale, no country should pay more than 22 per cent of the FAO budget, down from 25 per cent.

Progress was also made on the revision of the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides that should reflect more strongly health and environmental concerns. Member States supported the revised text except for a number of clauses dealing with intellectual property rights and data protection, which will require further review.

Four new countries – Monaco, Nauru, Uzbekistan and Yugoslavia – were admitted to FAO during the session, bringing the number of members to 183.