So, what is the difference between voluntary benefit sharing and mandatory benefit sharing?
Mandatory benefit sharing often means that the plant breeder must commit to paying a sum of money in exchange for the right to breed with genetic resources, as they develop and commercialize new crop varieties. Voluntary benefit sharing can mean plant breeders providing financial support to national gene banks, conservation programmes or other projects, but can also include in kind activities, such as:
- Sharing know-how to empower smallholder farmers and build capacity in plant breeding and seed production;
- Helping gene banks by multiplying their genetic resources that will then be shared with others and by providing advice;
- Depositing seed of their new varieties in gene banks so that these new genetic resources are available to all;
- Taking part in collaborative research projects and pre-breeding programmes with the aim of exploring and using the biodiversity in plant genetic resources to find new sources of important crop characteristics like yield, disease resistance and quality to use in developing improved varieties;
- Sharing expertise in policy decisions with national and international advisory committees;
- Raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity and conservation of genetic resources locally, nationally and globally;
- Sharing the latest improved varieties through the breeders’ exemption, a principle that makes innovative new commercial varieties available to anyone to use in plant breeding thereby ensuring the availability of these genetic resources for the benefit of food security.
Why do voluntary benefit sharing activities matter?
Because they are:
… An opportunity to give back to nature
… A direct way to support conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources
… A means of helping communities access, conserve and use sustainably genetic resources while also improving their livelihoods
…And above all, an investment in the future of worldwide food security
In order to find out more about the types of voluntary benefit sharing activities the seed sector is engaged in and to view the specific projects, please select a type of activity below.
Access and benefit-sharing legislations and obligations
In the recent years, the landscape regarding access and benefit-sharing legislation and obligations applicable on European and international level has changed significantly. This may have an implication for the day-to-day work of breeders.