Farmers' Crop Varieties and Farmers' Rights

Challenges in Taxonomy and Law

Edited by Michael Halewood

© 2016 – Routledge

402 pages | 23 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2016-03-28
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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

Michael Halewood and Isabel Lapeña

Part 1: Dynamism in the Field: Factors Affecting the Evolution and Maintenance of Distinct Traits in Farmer’s Variety

2. Technical Challenges in Identifying Farmer Varieties

Jeremy Cherfas

3. The Farmers’ Role in Creating New Genetic Diversity

Carlo Fadda

Part 2: Case Studies at the Interface of Farmer Variety Enhancement Efforts and National Policies

4. Leveraging the Successful Participatory Improvement of Pokhareli Jethobudhu for National Policy Development in Nepal

Pratap Kumar Shrestha

5. Promoting Policy Support for the Enhancement and Marketing of Farmers’ Varieties in Vietnam

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hue and Michael Halewood

6. Participatory Barley Breeding in Syria: Policy Bottlenecks and Responses

Salvatore Ceccarelli

Part 3: The International Policy Context: Global Systems of Conservation and Use and Farmers’ Rights

7. Historical Context: Evolving International Cooperation on Crop Genetic Resources

Regine Anderson

8. Farmers’ Rights: Evolution of the International Policy Debate and National Implementation

Regine Andersen

Part 4: Identifying Discrete Farmers’ Varieties in Law

9. Sui Generis IPR Protections for Farmers’ Varieties

Carlos Correa

10. Variety Registration: The Evolution of Registration Systems with a Special Emphasis on Agro-biodiversity Conservation

Niels Louwaars and François Burgaud

11. Defensive Protection of Farmers’ Varieties

Isabel López Noriega

12. Institutional Capacity and Implementation Issues in Farmers’ Rights

C.S. Srinivasan

Part 5: Case studies of National Laws

13. Commentary on the Indian Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act 2001

Dwijen Rangnekar

14. Commentary on the Malaysian Protection of New Varieties Act 2004

Lim Eng Siang

15. Commentary on Egypt’s Law on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

Mohammed Eid Megeed

16. Commentary on Thailand’s Plant Varieties Protection Act

Gabrielle Gagne and Chutima Ratanasatien

17. Commentary on the Zambian Plant Breeders’ Rights Act

Godfrey Mwila

18. Commentary on the Nepalese Seeds Act and the Seeds Regulation

Pratap Shrestha

19. Variety Regulation in the United State of America

Richard J. Blaustein

20. Commentary on Law no. 10711 Regulating the Brazilian National Seed and Seedling System

Juliana Santilli

21. Commentary on Variety Registration Regulation in Italy

Alejandro Mejias, Enrico Bertacchini and Riccardo Bocci

22. Commentary on the Zambian Plant Variety and Seeds Act, 1998

Godfrey Mwila

23. Commentary on the Regulation on Management of Farm Households' Plant Varieties in Vietnam

Nguyen Van Dinh and Nguyen Ngoc Kinh

24. Commentary on the Registry of Native Crops in Peru: Law 28477 and the Registry of Native Potatoes

Manuel Ruiz Muller

25. Analysis of the Draft Proposal for the Establishment of a Special System for the Registry and Commercialization of Native Seeds (Farmers’ Seeds) in Costa Rica

Jorge Cabrera Medaglia

26. Registration of Traditional Varieties under Benin Seed Regulation

Raymond Vodouhe with Michael Halewood

About the Editor

Michael Halewood is a senior scientist and leader of the Genetic Resources Policies, Institutions and Monitoring Group 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