The Senate passed the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture on Sept. 28.
The American Soybean Association (ASA) supported passage and ratification of the treaty. In February, ASA President Richard Wilkins wrote to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) and Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) to express support, noting that it “establishes uniform terms for the exchange of plant materials which provide the greatest certainty to public sector plant breeders and seed companies.” The treaty was signed by the U.S. in 2002.
Many crops grown in the U.S. rely on genetic diversity from other countries. Today, 139 countries have ratified the treaty, many of which are key competitors with the U.S. in international seed markets. Even without ratification, U.S. companies, universities and government agencies are impacted by the treaty, and must abide by its legally binding material transfer agreement in order to access critical, international germplasm. Ratification of the bipartisan treaty requires no changes in existing U.S. laws and no additional appropriations.