Small-scale farmers: The missing element in the WIPO IGC draft articles on genetic resources
Susan Bragdon, Quaker United Nations Office, July 2013

In this briefing paper, the author explores possible linkages and identifies questions with regard to the implications of the draft IGC text on genetic resources on small-scale farmers and food security. Highlighting that the input of small-scale farmers is critical to the success of any regime on genetic resources and traditional knowledge, the author argues that the IGC could focus on the intellectual property aspects of farmer innovation, through positive or defensive protection, through using the intellectual property (IP) system to support other regimes, or some combination of these types of measures. It is noted that the objectives in the consolidated draft have been reduced to compliance with access and benefit-sharing (ABS), and ensuring that IP/patent offices have the required information to prevent the granting of erroneous patents and misappropriation, while the crucial yet missing entry point is the connection between IP protection and incentives to develop new and relevant plant genetic resources for food and agriculture on-farm. Questions, such as what impact do the proposed IGC texts have on the rights of farmers to use and exchange seeds or on the choice and availability of desired technologies and know-how, need to be asked and explored. Download the paper [pdf] …