A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
Interested in GIS?
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Posted 7:13 PM by Luigi
PGR Law and Policy Workshop in Pohnpei
by Dr Mary Taylor, RGC Adviser, SPC.
A one day workshop on law and policy issues affecting the management (conservation and utilization) of plant genetic resources was held in the Agriculture Headquarters in Kolonia in Pohnpei. There were a total of 27 participants (including the resource persons) representing both the public and private sector.
Summary of presentations
Presentations were given by Ishmael Lebehn, Acting Secretary to Economic Affairs for the FSM National Government, Marion Henry, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fisheries, FSM Department of Economic Affairs and Mary Taylor, Regional Germplasm Centre Adviser, Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
The presentation from Mr Lebehn discussed both the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) national laws and also the State Laws. National laws include the Plant and Animal Quarantine Law, for the protection of agriculture and the general well-being of FSM, and also the Food Safety Law. The States have authority over their resources with laws on quarantine, conservation, environment etc. FSM has ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and are working to fulfill their obligation to the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol, through developing a biosafety framework under the UNEP-GEF project. The problem in FSM, as with many Pacific Island countries, is the lack of resources to implement these agreements. There is an officer in the AG office with responsibility to develop an access and benefit sharing law – this is being developed initially at the national level and will then be discussed at the State level later.
The presentation from Marion Henry focused on the CBD and its implementation. There was some concern that much had yet to be done in this area (as with many countries in the world). The State has the responsibility for managing the biodiversity within the State and the marine waters to the edge of the Territorial Sea (12 nautical miles) whereas the FSM national government has responsibility for managing the conservation of all natural resources within the 200-mile limit, that is, the Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ). The FSM national government sign international agreements but then to a large extent it is up to each State to implement and enforce. With bio-prospecting, an import permit can be obtained from the Historical Preservation Office (FSM National government), but the States also issue import permits. All the States have constitutions which respect the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources, and traditional rights and practices, but there is no mechanism for access and benefit sharing, and State constitutions can vary with the different States.
The presentation from Mary Taylor looked at the historical context of the laws and the policies which impact on plant genetic resources management, highlighting that legal agreements tend to reflect the current circumstances, hence the diversity of existing agreements. Some time was then spent detailing the major instruments, those of protection, that is, IPR agreements and those of conservation and use, that is, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) – focusing on the background under which they were negotiated, the negotiators and their objectives. The discussion on IPR agreements defined intellectual property rights, discussed the implications of the TRIPs agreement and outlined the criteria necessary for patent legislation and plant breeders’ rights. The International Convention for the Protection of New varieties of Plants Act (UPOV) was described as an example of a sui generis IPR protection system, and the whole issue of the suitability of Plant Breeders Rights (PBRs) in the Pacific was raised. The discussion on the CBD considered the objectives of the CBD, and what was happening in the Pacific region – highlighting that although 14 countries are Parties to the CBD, countries were still in the process of developing ABS regimes. The ITPGRFA was also discussed – what are the advantages to the countries, and are there any disadvantages.
Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) in action
The meeting discussed the presentations and then focused on what were the main issues for Pohnpei. These were:
The meeting decided that determining a mechanism for access and benefit sharing (ABS) was of prior importance because of the keen interest in Karat banana, and so the remainder of the workshop time was devoted to this issue.
After the group work the workshop participants discussed what could be done to address some of the issues the one-day workshop had raised. There was obviously a need to make progress in some of the areas that had been discussed. These were:
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