Publication Details

This article was originally published as Rose, GL, International Law of Sustainable Agriculture in the 21st Century: The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, The Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, 15(4), Summer 2003, 583-632. Journal information available here.


This paper examines the new PGR Treaty, assessing what it contains that is innovative and what it contains that are repackaged existing arrangements. Therefore, the PGR Treaty is described in the context of the pre-existing arrangements and the political forces that shaped it. The examination commences by providing a historical perspective on the transfer and use of plant genetic resources. It introduces institutional arrangements that predate the Treaty and explains the relationships between them. In this, attention focuses on the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture 1983 (International Undertaking) and the Treaty on Biological Diversity 1992 (CBD), especially their attempts to address the politically central issues of allocation of property and profit. By identifying the strengths and weaknesses of those instruments, the innovations and omissions in the PGR Treaty are highlighted.

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