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 9781849713726
Published November 3, 2011 by Routledge
368 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  5. The Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants ans the UPOV System: The Protection of Intellectual Property Rights over Plant Varieties  6. Access and Benefit-Sharing Laws and Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture: The International Legal Regime  7. Options for the Implementation of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at the National Level: Main Issues  8. Farmers' Rights  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  11. Agrobiodiversity and Cultural Heritage Law  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.