Monetary Benefit-Sharing Mechanism under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Legal assistance paper

All reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time the advice was produced (please refer to the date produced below). However, the materials have been prepared for informational purposes only and may have been superseded by more recent developments. They do not constitute formal legal advice or create a lawyer-client relationship. You should seek legal advice to take account of your own interests. To the extent permitted any liability is excluded. Those consulting the database may wish to contact LRI for clarifications and an updated analysis.

Date produced: 11/10/2011

How does the monetary benefit-sharing mechanism under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture work ? This is provided as a precedent for a mechanism giving rebates to certain countries for revenues that have been collected internationally, and show the feasibility of introducing compensatory rebates to developing countries with a bunker fuel levy.

Article 10 of the Treaty mandates the establishment of a “Multilateral System” to facilitate access to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and to share, in a fair and equitable way, the benefits derived from the utilisation of these resources. Article 13 provides that a standard “Material Transfer Agreement” shall be drafted to govern the monetary benefit-sharing from the commercialisation of a product that is a plant genetic resource for food or agriculture that incorporates material accessed through the Multilateral System.

The standard Material Transfer Agreement provides for the payment of 1.1% of the sales of any commercialised product less 30%. The payments are made to a benefit-sharing trust fund (the “Trust”) established under the Treaty. The general objective of the Trust is “to ensure the long-term conservation and availability of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture – with a view to achieving global food security and sustainable agriculture.” The purpose of the Trust is further informed by language in the Treaty directing that the benefits derived from the Multilateral System should primarily flow to developing countries and countries with economies in transition. At a practical level, these funds are used to fund projects for building capacity, accessing and transferring technology and making information available.

The Trust is under the direct control of the “Governing Body,” which is composed of members from all of the parties to the Treaty. The Governing Body reaches its decisions by consensus. The Governing Body decides on the allocation of funds under its control, including those of the Trust, on the basis of preparatory work of the Secretariat and, in addition, where appropriate, with the assistance of an Ad Hoc Advisory Committee. The Governing Body also has the authority to create operational procedures for the receipt and management of these funds.

Countries that are Parties to the Treaty

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, European Union, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Samoa, São Tomé and Príncipe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.