International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (March 1, 2010)   [open pdf - 300KB]

"Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) serve as the raw material used by plant breeders and farmers to create new crop varieties. As such, they are viewed by many as the foundation for modern agriculture and as essential for achieving global food security. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that more than three-quarters of the increased crop productivity of the past 30 years is the result of plant breeding, and that future global food security depends to a large extent on the continued improvement of food crops--for example, developing new varieties that are higher-yielding, resistant to pests and diseases, resistant to extreme weather events such as drought or flood, and/or regionally adapted to different environments and growing conditions. All countries of the world are interdependent when it comes to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture; each relies on others for the genetic basis of its major food crops and for its food security. Interdependence for major food crops--the measure of reliance on nonindigenous staple crop germplasm that comes from other parts of the world--is over 50% for most regions, and ranges from 67% to 84% for countries in central Africa and from 85% to 100% for countries in south Asia. The high degree of interdependence argues for free access by countries to a wide range of plant genetic resources from other regions, in order to ensure future crop improvement and continued gains in agricultural productivity globally."

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CRS Report for Congress, R41091
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