Agrobiodiversity and the Law : Regulating Genetic Resources, Food Security and Cultural Diversity book cover
1st Edition

Agrobiodiversity and the Law
Regulating Genetic Resources, Food Security and Cultural Diversity

ISBN 9781138680333
Published April 21, 2016 by Routledge
348 Pages

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Book Description

A wide range of crop genetic resources is vital for future food security. Loss of agricultural biodiversity increases the risk of relying on a limited number of staple food crops. However, many laws, such as seed laws, plant varieties protection and access and benefit-sharing laws, have direct impacts on agrobiodiversity, and their effects have been severely underestimated by policy-makers. This is of concern not only to lawyers, but also to agronomists, biologists, and social scientists, all of whom need clear guidance as to the relevance of the law to their work.

This book analyzes the impact of the legal system on agrobiodiversity (or agricultural biodiversity) – the diversity of agricultural species, varieties, and ecosystems. Using an interdisciplinary approach, it takes up the emerging concept of agrobiodiversity and its relationship with food security, nutrition, health, environmental sustainability, and climate change. It assesses the impacts on agrobiodiversity of key legal instruments, including seeds laws, the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, plant breeders’ rights, the Convention on Biological Diversity (regarding specifically its impact on agrobiodiversity), and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. It also reviews the options for the implementation of these instruments at the national level in several countries. It discusses the interfaces between the free software movement, the ‘commons’ movement, and seeds, as well as the legal instruments to protect cultural heritage and their application to safeguard agrobiodiversity-rich systems. Finally, it analyzes the role of protected areas and the possibility of using geographical indications to enhance the value of agrobiodiversity products and processes.

Table of Contents

List of Tables.  About the author.  List of Acronyms and Abbreviations.  Acknowledgements.  Preface.  1. Agrobiodiversity: a concept in construction.  2. Agrobiodiversity and food security, nutrition, health, social equality and environmental sustainability.  3. Agobiodiversity and climate change.  4. Seed Laws: the paradigms of industrial agriculture, traditional/local agricultural systems and agrobiodiversity.  4.1. Seed laws in Latin American countries.  4.2. The Brazilian seed law and traditional, local and Creole plant varieties.  4.3. The European directives on conservation varieties, the Italian regional laws and seed laws in Switzerland and Norway.  5. The Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants ans the UPOV System: the protection of intellectual property rights over plant varieties.  5.1. History.  5.2. The UPOV Convention: main concepts.  5.3. The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights(TRIPS), of the World Trade Organization (WTO).  5.4. U.S. Patents on plant varieties: utility patents and plant patents.  5.5.  No European patents for essentially biological breeding processes: the broccoli and the tomato cases.  5.6. The 1978 and 1991 Acts of the UPOV Convention: main differences.  5.7. Some countries that said NO to UPOV.  5.8. Patents and the UPOV system: compulsory cross-licences.  6. Access and benefit-sharing laws and plant genetic resources for food and agriculture: the international legal regime.  6.1. Historical background: FAO Conferences in 1961, 1967 and 1973. Discussions on ex situ and in situ conservation of plant genetic resources.  6.2. The International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources.  6.3. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and agriculture.  6.4. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.  6.5. The Nagoya Protocol and its interfaces with FAO´s International Treaty and other specialized access and benefit-sharing agreements.  7. Options for the implementation of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at the national level: main issues.  7.1. Access and Benefit-Sharing: plant genetic resources for food and agriculture found in in situ conditions.  7.2. Access and Benefit-Sharing: plant genetic resources for food and agriculture NOT included in the multilateral system and National Benefit- Sharing Funds.  7.3. Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture held by state and provincial institutions.  7.4. The special legal regime of plant genetic resources found in the territories of Indigenous peoples and other ethnic minorities.  7.5. Brazilian ABS Law and plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.  7.6. Peruvian ABS law and plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.  7.7. A comparison between the Brazilian and the Peruvian ABS laws, in relation to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.  8. Farmers´rights.  8.1. Historical background and article 9 of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.  8.2. Farmers’ Rights to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds and other propagating material.  8.3. Uses of commercial plant varieties as source of diversity in farmers´ breeding: extending the breeder´s privilege to farmers.  8.4. Protection of traditional knowledge and collective benefit sharing mechanisms.  8.5. Participatory plant breeding.  8.6. Farmers´ political participation.  8.7. India's Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act and the new Seed Bill.   8.8. Farmers´Rights in the African Unity Model Law and in Ethiopian Proclamations.  9. Animal genetic resources for food and agriculture: access and benefit-sharing and livestock breeders´ rights.  10. The open source software movement, creative commons and seeds: what they have in common. Biological Open Source and protected commons.  11. Agrobiodiversity and Cultural Heritage Law.  11.1. Cultivated plants as cultural artifacts - "Agri-culture".  11.2. The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage: interfaces with agrobiodiversity and food diversity.  11.3. Registry of intangible cultural heritage and agrobiodiversity-rich systems in the Brazilian Amazon: a new perspective for the safeguarding of traditional agricultural systems.  11.4. Recognition of traditional knowledge associated to maize diversity and of local foods as intangible heritage in Peru.  11.5. The Unesco Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the concept of 'cultural landscapes'.  11.6. 'Cultural landscapes' and the safeguarding of traditional agricultural systems in Philippines, Cuba, Hungary, Sweden and Brazil.  11.7. Globally Important Ingenious Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS): general overview of case studies in Peru, Chile, Philippines, Magreb (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), China, Kenya and Tanzania.  11.8. GIAHS, Amazonian dark earths and agrobiodiversity.  12. Agrobiodiversity and protected areas.  13. Geographical indications for agrobiodiversity products? Case studies in France, Mexico and Brazil.  Conclusions.  Index.

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Juliana Santilli is a lawyer and public prosecutor in the Federal District of Brazil, specialized in Environmental and Cultural Heritage Law and Public Policies. She has a PhD in Environmental Law, and is an associate researcher in Environmental Law at the University of Brasília Center for Sustainable Development. She is a co-founding member of the Brazilian civil society organization Instituto Socioambiental.


'This book is a must for all involved in the management of crop genetic resources. Santili’ s clear, comprehensive and updated account of the major international developments draws on a broad foundation of previous research, illustrated with examples from around the world. Agrobiodiversity and the Law represents a central contribution to our understanding of this important topic.' - Regine Andersen, Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway. 

'Agrobiodiversity – our shared heritage of agricultural species and varieties, and the knowledge and practices of indigenous and traditional farming communities associated with these – is an essential component of human development and well-being, not least as regards food security and adaptation to climate change. Juliana Santilli provides us with a comprehensive overview of the increasingly complex set of international and national legal instruments designed to reverse the current loss of agrobiodiversity and reward those responsible for conserving plant genetic resources and for sharing their associated traditional knowledge. Highly recommended to policy-makers, researchers and other readers seeking an accessible and authoritative introduction to an increasingly important issue.' - Anthony Gross, Senior Felow of United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies.