In order to set up a reasonable mechanism of access to and benefit sharing of genetic resources, promote the production of agriculture, forestry and medicine, and to ensure the safety of genetic resources, China has formulated some laws and regulations, and actively participated in the international cooperation on access to and utilization of genetic resources.
1． Improve laws and regulations and promote the access to and utilization of genetic resources
In April 1997, China issued the Regulation of the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, to conduct protection of new plant varieties by regulation. Based on the regulation, the Implementation Measures of the Regulation of the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (agriculture and forestry parts) and the protected inventory of new agriculture and forestry plant varieties were issued.
The Temporary Management Methods of the Export and Import Agricultural Seedling was issued in March 1997. It stipulates that the supply of germplasm resources to overseas should be managed according to the classified inventory of crop germplasm resources. The Institute of Germplasm Resources of Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences is responsible for the application of ratification and the agriculture administrative department of the State Council is responsible for the ratification.
The Law of Seeds passed in July 2000 makes clear stipulations on germplasm resource conservation, the screening, breeding and appraisal of varieties, and the production, management, use, quality control, import and export and international cooperation of seeds. The permit system is carried out for seed management. The agriculture and forestry administrative departments of the State Council are responsible for the national management of crop seeds and forestry seeds, respectively. If the screened and cultivated varieties have been promoted widely, persons engaged in seed screening and cultivation shall obtain relevant economic benefits.
China has also issued the Implementation Measures for Livestock and Poultry Regulation, the Temporary Methods of the Production and Management of Crop Seeds, and the Quarantine Management Method of the Breeding Material of Imported Plants, etc.
2． Enhance the construction of bases and institutions to provide institutional guarantee for the access to and utilization of genetic resources
Since 1996, China has organized the implementation of seed engineering. By 1999, 189 non-profit seed projects have been invested, such as national seed farms, inspection centers of crop seed quality, national emergency seed storage bases, regional demonstration stations of crop seeds, and crop seed improvement centers, with 1.18 billion Chinese yuan. 215 infrastructure loan projects have been arranged such as the large and medium sized seed processing centers, seed package material plants, and seed processing machinery plants, with the total investment of 1.5 billion Chinese yuan. In 1999, the state-owned seed companies had 1.9333 million hectares of primitive and improved seed production bases, and the commercial supply of major crops in the whole country was 4.5 million tons.
China has constructed a long-term national storehouse and a backup storehouse of crop germplasm resources in Beijing and Qinghai respectively. 27 mid-term storehouses of crop germplasm resources, and 32 gardens of perennial plants and wild relatives of crops were established. 160 species of crops and 370000 pieces of crop germplasm resources have been kept in storehouses, and evaluated in terms of catalogues, agronomic properties, quality, pressure, disease and pest resistance. China Crop Germplasm Resource Information System is also established. During 1996 to 2000, institutions engaged in the preservation of crop germplasm resource in China provided 11896 copies of various kinds of excellent crop germplasm resources for institutions engaged in seed cultivation, education and production across the country.
Chinese government enhances the support for the protection of livestock and poultry germplasm resources. In 1998, there were over 3300 breeding livestock and poultry farms of various kinds, with over 32 million heads of breeding livestock and poultry. By the end of 1998, there were 64 livestock and poultry variety resources protected, among which were 19 kinds of pigs (including 4 imported ones), 15 kinds of poultry (including 3 imported ones), 8 kinds of cows and camels, 9 kinds of sheep (including 1 imported one), 3 kinds of horses and 10 kinds of bees. These breeding livestock and poultry undertake the tasks of breeding, ensuring varieties and supplying varieties for the country, and have made great contribution to the stable progress of animal husbandry, the prospects of markets and the guarantee of supply in China.
China has also set up lots of zoos, wild animal breeding bases, botanical gardens and forest gardens as well as some seed storehouses, embryo banks, cell banks, and sperm banks, which has promoted the preservation and exchanges of genetic resources.
3． Conduct publicity and training to improve the awareness and skills of access to and utilization of genetic resources
In order to promote the awareness of the importance of protecting new plants varieties across the country and the enforcement and administration in line with laws, training courses of the protection of new plant varieties have been conducted many times. The participants include technical and management personnel, agents of variety rights, and seed business and trade persons. 30 participants have obtained agent qualification after taking exams for the first time.
4．Actively participate in the international cooperation of access to and utilization of genetic resources
On 23 April 1999, China became the formal member of the International Convention of New Plant Variety Conservation. In October 1999, Chinese government attended the Council of the Conservation Union of New Plant Varieties convened in Geneva.
China participated in each meeting during the negotiation process of the International Agreement on Botanical Genetic Resources. China fully supports the principles of CBD, and actively promotes the consistency of the principles of the two agreements. China supports and actively promotes the multilateral system for access and benefit sharing of botanical genetic resources, and is committed to providing germplasm resources for the multilateral system according to the two principles of food security and inter-dependence. Within the multilateral system, China actively promotes convenient access, and stick to the principle of fair sharing of benefits from genetic resources acquired from the multilateral system, and holds that farmers’ rights should be realized.
Through Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), China has conducted exchanges of germpasm resources with other countries or international agriculture organizations. With limited financial support, China has tried to breed germplasm resources as much as possible for exchanges. Chins has set up the information exchange network of germplasm resources with convenient information inquiry through Internet for overseas users. In recent three years, China has provided over 8000 copies of various crop germplasm resources for the countries in the world and the international agriculture research institution, so that the germplasm resources of China could be utilized in the world and contributions have been made for world food safety. China supports and encourages the Parties providing genetic resources to fully get involved in the development and scientific researches of genetic resources. However, due to technological and financial limitation, China only has few chances to be involved in the process of the researches and development of genetic resources provided for other Parties.
5．Priority of access to and benefit sharing of genetic resources
(1) Improve national laws and regulations on access to and benefit sharing of genetic resources, especially to formulate the laws and regulations of genetic resource conservation of microorganisms, to promote access to and benefit sharing of genetic resources;
(2) Enhance in situ conservation of relatives of wild plants;
(3) Set up ecological bases and breeding and upgrading bases of germplasm resources in seven ecological regions in the country;
(4) Enhance the appraisal and evaluation of stored crop germplasm resources, and set up core samples, so as to provide more excellent germplasm resources for breeding and production, and to improve the effective utilization of stored resources;
(5) Set up gradually the national information management and feedback systems for the preservation and utilization of germplasm resources;
(6) Improve and set up a series of wildlife breeding centers, seed bases and germplasm resource storehouses;
(7) Enhance the monitoring of in situ and ex situ preserved resources, and set up effective warning systems to safeguard the conservation of biological resources;
(8) Actively participate in international negotiations, and promote the construction of international multilateral system and marketized mechanism for access to and benefit sharing of genetic resources.