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Plant genetic resources treaty enters into force.

Recent ratification by the European Community, 11 European countries, and Egypt will allow a treaty aimed at conserving the biodiversity of plant genetic resources used in agriculture to enter into force on June 29. Forty-eight countries now support the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which overtly promotes farmers' rights to protect the "past, present, and future contributions of farmers in conserving, improving, and making available plant genetic resources." The treaty will not apply to countries, including the United States and Japan, which have yet to ratify it.

Since agriculture began roughly 10,000 years ago, some 10,000 species have been used in food production, but today just 150 crops feed most humans and 12 provide 80 percent of all food energy. Access to a range of genetic resources ensures that a wider variety of food products may be cultivated, many of which might improve current diets. "The Treaty is an important contribution to the achievement of the World Food Summit's major objective of halving the number of hungry people by 2015," says UN Food and Agricultural Organization Director-General Dr. Jacques Diouf. This target is now one of the Millenium Development Goals and was reiterated in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, a major outcome of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

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Title Annotation:Environmental Intelligence
Author:Chafe, Zoe
Publication:World Watch
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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