Farmers’ Rights and the Intellectual Property Dynamic in Agriculture

This chapter focuses on the evolution of IP in the agriculture sector as part of IP-related issue linkage. It examines the tensions arising from the use of IP to advance a private and formal scientific approach to agricultural innovation, in contrast to using alternative frameworks of agricultural innovation. Such frameworks, which tend to be more open and communal, are usually associated with the practices of farmers in indigenous and local communities (ILCs) across the globe. The chapter surveys the historical context of farmers’ rights and their raison d’être, as well as the skepticism that has trailed the concept in the discussion of IP in agriculture. By exploring the ongoing implementation of the 2001 International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (the Treaty) and recent developments in related regimes, the chapter argues that even though these initiatives are still at a nascent stage, they represent a mood change, as manifested in the emergence of a concept of ‘farmers’ rights’. The Treaty and cognate regimes, especially the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research Consortium (CGIAR Consortium) are important new sites for future negotiations of the IP and farmers’ rights interface in agriculture. The feasibility or futility of farmer-centered agriculture in the twenty-first century and the role of IP in that regard is of interest to this chapter.


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Oguamanam, Chidi, Farmers’ Rights and the Intellectual Property Dynamic in Agriculture (September 1, 2014). Chapter 13, Sage Handbook of Intellectual Property (Matthew David & Deborah Halbert, eds., Sage, London, 2014 pp. 238-257).

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