The Commons, Plant Breeding and Agricultural Research : Challenges for Food Security and Agrobiodiversity book cover
1st Edition

The Commons, Plant Breeding and Agricultural Research
Challenges for Food Security and Agrobiodiversity

ISBN 9781138087583
Published March 19, 2018 by Routledge
328 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The joint challenges of population increase, food security and conservation of agrobiodiversity demand a rethink of plant breeding and agricultural research from a different perspective. While more food is undeniably needed, the key question is rather about how to produce it in a way that sustains biological diversity and mitigates climate change.

This book shows how social sciences, and more especially law, can contribute towards reconfiguring current legal frameworks in order to achieving a better balance between the necessary requirements of agricultural innovation and the need for protection of agrobiodiversity. On the assumption that the concept of property can be rethought against the background of the 'right to include', so as to endow others with a common 'right to access' genetic resources, several international instruments and contractual arrangements drawn from the plant-breeding field (including the Convention on Biological Diversity, technology exchange clearing houses and open sources licenses) receive special consideration. In addition, the authors explore the tension between ownership and the free circulation and exchange of germplasm and issues such as genetic resources managed by local and indigenous communities, the ITPGRFA and participatory plant-breeding programmes.

As a whole, the book demonstrates the relevance of the 'Commons' for plant breeding and agricultural innovation.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Commoning the Seeds: The Future of Agrobiodiversity and Food Security  1. Farmers, Innovation, and Intellectual Property: Current Trends and their Consequences for Food Security  Part I: Access, Benefit-Sharing and Licensing  2. Beyond Access and Benefit-Sharing: Lessons from the Emergence and Application of the Principle of Fair and Equitable Benefit-Sharing in Agrobiodiversity Governance  3. Patent & Benefit sharing. What can we learn from the Quassia amara lawsuit? What is the problem?  4. Open Sesame: Open Source and Crops  5. Creating universal and sustainable access to plants and seeds: The role of clearinghouses, open source licenses, and inclusive patents  Part II: Theoretical Frameworks  6. Private Law Arrangements for the Commons: A New Comparative Perspective  7. Composing the Common World of the Local Bio-Commons in the Age of the Anthropocene  Part III: The Struggle for the Recovery of the Shrinking Bio-Commons  8. An Anthropological Lens on Property and Access: Gudeman’s Dialectics of Community and Market  9. Which scale to understand seed fluxes in small-scale farming societies? Snapshots of sorghum from Africa  10. Making the Difference with a Common Plant: The Recovery of Guarana by the Sateré-Mawé (Brazil)  11. What Legal Framework for Safeguarding Traditional Seeds? Building the Commons in Colombia  Part IV: A New Vitality for the Bio-Commons?  12. Governing Landraces and Associated Knowledge as a Commons. From Theory to Practice  13. ‘Free our seeds!’ Strategies of farmers’ movements to reappropriate seeds  14. Geographical Indications and the Commons: What Matters?  15. Bio-commons in an industrialized country: a viable option?  Part V: Thinking Global: a Global Commons for the Seed?  16. The Benefit Sharing Mechanisms under the International Treaty: Heterogeneity and Equity in Global Resources Management  17. Planting the Commons: Towards Redesigning an Equitable Global Seed Exchange

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Fabien Girard is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA), France, and also an Associate Research Fellow, Maison Française d’Oxford (MFO), UK.

Christine Frison is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow both at the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) with the Law Faculty of the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and at the Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS) with the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research in Legal Sciences (JUR-I) of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.


"The book brings together experts from a number of disciplines, who analyse and comment on the interrelationships between stakeholders and the legal frameworks for the use and protection of genetic resources. An aim is to address the loss of agrobiodiversity that occurs when landraces are replaced with modern cultivars, as well as to ensure that farmers retain their rights to use, develop and share genetic resources. These issues are explored in considerable depth and the book benefits from having contributors from a diversity of fields, including economics, law, environmental science, agronomy, social anthropology, and social science."

- Richard Brettell, International Society for Plant Pathology and Springer Nature B.V. 2019