Peruvian indigenous farmers have been angered by a government research agency that has claimed it owns intellectual property (IP) rights over more than fifty traditional varieties of potatoes bred in the Peruvian Andes.
News and blogs
This week, from 24 to 28 September, witnesses the opening in Oman of the Fifth Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, also known as the seed treaty.
On 24th July 2013, the first SIFOR stakeholder workshop in the Central Himalayas brought together over 100 participants - leading scientists, local farmers, state governments and NGOs.
The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation for 2020 was agreed at the Biodiversity Convention’s 10th Conference of Parties in Nagoya, 2010. It sets out a series of targets to be achieved by 2020. The following two targets are directly relevant for the protection of biocultural heritage:
Objective II; target 9: 70 per cent of the genetic diversity of crops including their wild relatives and other socio-economically valuable plant species conserved, while respecting, preserving and maintaining associated indigenous and local knowledge.
Why develop biocultural products?
‘Indigenous Biocultural Territories’ (IBCTs) aim to protect collective biocultural heritage of indigenous peoples through collective territorial rights. They support the integrity of indigenous territorialities which are under siege from a variety of forces and actors, in a rapidly changing world. These territories are essential for sustaining local subsistence economies, diverse cultures, biological resources, innovation and adaption systems, and ecosystem services.
The Nagoya Protocol requires that:
Each Party shall take measures to raise awareness of the importance of genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, and related access and benefit-sharing issues” (Article 21).
Awareness raising measures may include:
organising meetings of indigenous and local communities and relevant stakeholders and involving them in implementation of the Protocol;
establishing a help desk, and a national clearing house;
IIED Sustaining Local Food Systems, Biodiversity and Livelihoods programme. This site provides information on biocultural heritage and rights in Peru, India, Indonesia and Iran.
Indigenous Peoples' Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA). Provides information on how the IPCCA's local assessments are using biocultural heritage to shape their concepts and methodologies.
Resilient farming, adaptation and food security
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) aims to promote intellectual property rights (IPRs) worldwide. In 2000, it established an inter-governmental committee to address IPR issues relating to genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore, including how to protect traditional knowledge from misappropriation and how to share benefits from commercialisation equitably.
We are facing a double extinction crisis - biological and cultural - as a result of prevailing development models and globalization.
The FAO estimates we have lost three quarters of all crop genetic resources in the past 100 years. Modern farming, based on just a few species and varieties, has spread across the globe, weakening agriculture’s genetic basis and our capacity to adapt to changing climates. Yet policymakers often see traditional farming systems rich in genetic diversity as a hindrance to economic growth.