FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The Commission on Plant Genetic Resources was established by FAO in 1983, to deal with issues related to plant genetic resources, including monitoring the operation of the international arrangements provided for in the International Undertaking (the agreement preceding the ITPGRFA).

The CGRFA started discussing Farmers' Rights in 1987, agreeing that " breeding of modern commercial plant varieties had been made possible first of all by the constant and joint efforts of the people/farmers (in the broad sense of the word) who had first domesticated wild plants and conserved and genetically improved the cultivated varieties over the millennia. Thanks were due in the second place to the scientists and professional people who, utilizing these varieties as their raw material, had applied modern techniques to achieve the giant strides made over the last 50 years in genetic improvements. In recent years some countries had incorporated the rights of the latter group into laws as 'Breeders' Rights',..."

When the ITPGRFA was negotiated in the CGRFA, UPOV member countries insisted that although farmers' rights are globally important, they are subject to national law. This simple provision allows UPOV member states to ignore farmers' rights, because national law already exists to protect breeders' rights but not farmers' rights. However, countries are free at national level to strike a balance between farmers' and breeders' rights.

The CGRFA has the oversight of the international genebanks that are administered by the World Bank governed international agricultural research centres of the CGIAR. Their IPR policy is essential to whether farmers have access to the new varieties that are, however, based on the genetic diversity their ancestors have bred.