Farmers' Crop Varieties and Farmers' Rights

Challenges in Taxonomy and Law

Edited by Michael Halewood

© 2016 – Routledge

288 pages | 10 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9781844078912
pub: 2016-01-14
Hardback: 9781844078905
pub: 2016-01-14
e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

Crop plant varieties developed by local farmers, commonly referred to as ‘farmers' varieties’, are problematic because there are no fixed taxonomic or legal definitions of them. As a result, policies to increase the share of benefits farmers receive from the use of such varieties struggle to have an effect. Aiming to clarifying these issues, this volume explores the nature of farmers’ varieties in the context of their biological, social and legal significance.

The book addresses the complexities of defining what farmers’ varieties are and how they differ from one another and from generic varieties. It then charts the evolution of the concept of ‘farmers’ rights’, from the dawn of ‘genetic resources’ as a subject worthy of international attention, to the first legal recognition of the concept, through to current efforts to develop national level policies and laws. Further, the book examines outstanding policy-making challenges linked to the absence of fixed taxonomic or legal definitions of farmers’ varieties.

Case studies are included from Africa, Asia, Europe and South America in which farmers, researchers and policy advocates have been confronted with the issues raised in this book. Various solutions are considered based on revised or new definitions of farmers’ varieties that reflect the biological and cultural realities in which they are produced, and the relative costs and benefits of attempting to implement each of the policies discussed.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction Biology of Crop Species and how that Affects Considerations of Identifying Farmers' Varieties 2. How Farmers, their Varieties, and National Policies Interact in Real Life: Observations from Nepal, Vietnam and Syria 3. Historical Policy Context: Evolving International Cooperation on Crop Genetic Resources 4. Farmers' Rights 5. Variety Registration (as Precondition for Commercialization) 6. Sui Generis IPR Protections for Farmers' Varieties 7. Defensive Publication 8. Cross Cutting Analysis Concerning Institutional Capacities

About the Editor

Michael Halewood is a Senior Scientist and Theme Leader of the ‘Policies for Crop and Tree Diversity Management’ research area at Bioversity International, Rome, Italy.

About the Series

Issues in Agricultural Biodiversity

Issues in Agricultural Biodiversity

This series of books is published by Earthscan in association with Bioversity International. The aim of the series is to review the current state of knowledge in topical issues associated with agricultural biodiversity, to identify gaps in our knowledge base, to synthesize lessons learned and to propose future research and development actions. The overall objective is to increase the sustainable use of biodiversity in improving people’s well-being and food and nutrition security. The series’ scope is all aspects of agricultural biodiversity, ranging from conservation biology of genetic resources through social sciences to policy and legal aspects. It also covers the fields of research, education, communication and coordination, information management and knowledge sharing.

For more information on Bioversity International, please visit

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Biological Diversity