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SEARICE Statement at the CGRFA 17 on ABS

February 2019

Following is the statement of the Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE) seventeenth session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA 17) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) through its Executive Director, Normita Ignacio.

Thank you Mr. Chair…


We would like to support the statement made by Zimbabwe on the close link between Agenda Item 3 on ABS [Access and Benefit Sharing] and Item 4 on DSI [Digital Sequence Information]. Hence, our intervention is also touching on both Agenda Items.


SEARICE welcomes the recommendation made by the ABS Expert Team that “subsector-specific scoping studies be undertaken on the current utilization of DSI in the different subsectors, including its implications on the conservation and sustainable use of GRFA, and the sharing of benefits derived from DSI.” But we would like to emphasize the need to take into account socio-economic, cultural and ethical considerations when identifying the potential benefits and potential adverse effects of DSI on the conservation, development and use of GRFA;


We share the concern of some experts that by using DSI, ABS measures could be by-passed. Hence, we would like to emphasize the importance of the scoping studies as mentioned earlier with particular emphasis on the potential impacts to smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples and local communities.


We support the view of the ABS Expert Team that the Commission should recommend that GRFA databases should require the disclosure of the country of origin of genetic resources of which the DSI was obtained.


We also support the recommendations of the ABS Expert Team for the need to raise awareness among stakeholders and policy-makers on the topic of DSI, including its possible implications for food security and nutrition. There is a need to promote and enable public and multi-stakeholder dialogues on this issue, involving all relevant stakeholders and with the full and effective engagement of smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples and local communities.

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