The Dutch vegetable seed company Bejo has made a payment to the Benefit-sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). This is because Bejo has developed a commercialised product using material obtained from the Multilateral System of the ITPGRFA through the Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN).
Access and Benefit-sharing of genetic resources
The Multilateral System (MLS) of the ITPGRFA is a shared pool of genetic resources comprising 64 important crops and forages. Under certain conditions, those who use material from the MLS and develop products from this have to share a percentage of their net sales through the Benefit-sharing Fund of the ITPGRFA.
Through the Benefit-sharing Fund, farmers and scientists in developing countries are supported to conserve and sustain the crops that provide our food supply. The Benefit-sharing Fund has benefited over 1 million people through 80 projects in 67 developing countries over four project cycles. The fourth round of these projects is currently ongoing.
Bejo and the Centre for Genetic Resources
Bejo Zaden B.V. is a vegetable seed company in The Netherlands that is currently active in over 30 countries. In 2015, Bejo acquired Agrisemen, which was the company that accessed material from the MLS through the Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN). Bejo’s payment to the Benefit-sharing Fund of the ITPGRFA is based on a percentage of the seed sales based on the material accessed from the MLS. Bert Schrijver, Director of Research at Bejo, states: “As a bona fide company, it is important that we keep to the agreements of the SMTA.”
The Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN) manages a large collection of plant genetic resources, storing over 23,000 varieties and wild populations in the genebank. These range from commercial varieties, landraces and farmer varieties to wild varieties of crops from over 100 countries.
Theo van Hintum, head of CGN-Plant, comments: “We all know that the breeding industry plays a vital role in feeding the world by creating the new varieties needed to produce sufficient and healthy food. Genebanks, such as CGN, contribute to this by making genetic resources available for the users doing the breeding. It is great to see that these users are also sharing some of the monetary benefits obtained from their activities, for the purpose of better conserving the raw material in the countries where it originated.”