Implementing Farmers’ Rights under the FAO International Treaty on PGRFA: the Need for a Broad Approach Based on Biocultural Heritage
Alejandro Argumedo, Krystyna Swiderska, Michel Pimbert, Yiching Song and Ruchi Pant
IIED, Asociacion ANDES (Peru), Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP, China) and Ecoserve (India), March 2011

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) recognizes the enormous contribution that indigenous and local communities and farmers have made to the conservation and development of plant genetic resources. In this paper, which has been prepared for the fourth session of the ITPGR Governing Body held from 14-18 March 2011 in Bali, Indonesia, the authors argue that a broad vision and approach that protects biocultural heritage as a whole is needed to effectively implement farmers’ rights. This means going beyond a focus on protecting farmers’ rights to benefit-sharing, to include protection of farmers’ customary rights over genetic resources and associated landscapes, cultural and spiritual values, and customary laws, on which the continued conservation and improvement of plant genetic resources by farmers depends. The ability of farmers to continue supporting the objectives of the Treaty of conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources is seriously threatened, not only by lack of benefit-sharing, but also by lack of secure rights to land and bio-genetic resources, erosion of cultural values, and agricultural policies that promote industrial agriculture and monocultures. The authors note that the continued loss of locally-adapted farmer varieties is a threat to local and global food security, particularly in the context of climate change. Download the paper [pdf] …