Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 64, Issue 6, pp 1133–1139 | Cite as

U.S. ratification of Plant Treaty: benefit sharing ambiguity for plant genomics researchers does not change

Short Communication


Plant genomics data and information are widely acknowledged to have potential benefits for plant breeding and global food security. Yet, at present, there is a great deal of confusion over potential benefit sharing obligations arising from use of genomics data and information, particularly if the data and information are derived from plant genetic resources accessed from gene banks that are part of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources in Food and Agriculture (Treaty) Multilateral System (MLS). To some extent, this lack of clarity stemmed from the fact that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Plant Germplasm System was not, until recently, part of the Treaty MLS. In October 2016, however, the U.S. ratified the Treaty. This paper addresses whether the U.S. ratification of the Treaty has ameliorated or exacerbated the confusion. In reviewing Treaty benefit sharing obligations and their impact on plant genomics pre- and post-U.S. ratification, it appears that ambiguity around genomics data and information is largely unchanged. In light of this, the paper recommends further dialogue about this important issue.


International Treaty for plant genetic resources on food and agriculture Access and benefit sharing Plant genetic resources Standard material transfer agreement Genomic data Plant genomics research 



The author wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Loren Rieseberg, Rachael Manion, and Ed Levy, as well as the support of Genome BC and Genome Canada.

Compliance with ethical standard

Conflict of interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of British Columbia Faculty of LawUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Sidley Austin LLPPalo AltoUSA

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