Plant Genetic Resources Interdependence: Re-Integrating Farmers into the Global Food System

The Chapter outlines the historical interdependence in the sourcing of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture within the global food system and food supply. It identifies a combination of technological factor endowments, private sector activism, corporate concentration, intellectual property and trade regimes as instrumental to the ability of ‘gene-poor’ industrialized countries of the ‘new world’ to relegate public sector research and development in agricultural innovation. The Chapter notes that the successful interfacing of these factors is due, in part, to an adventurous agricultural production dynamic in industrialized countries that is anchored on innovation as opposed to culture and tradition. Whereas technological capture of agricultural innovation and the legal regulatory privileging of intellectual property (especially plant breeders’ rights) and trade succeeded in the developed countries, that approach is ill-suited for most of the developing world now under intense pressure to follow their industrialized counterparts. Not only is agricultural and food production in those countries driven by farmers as opposed to breeders, agriculture’s affinity with culture, ecological ethics and land are pivotal to sustainable agro-biodiversity which accounts for the indispensable role of small holder farmers as food producers for the majority of the world’s hungry population. The Chapter recommends a sustained and proactive strategy to reintegrate small holder farmers into the global food system. Polices that promote the use and diffusion of agro-diverse landraces and agro-ecological practices of indigenous and local communities especially in the official seed systems are desirable for small holder farmer empowerment.

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Oguamanam, Chidi, Plant Genetic Resources Interdependence: Re-Integrating Farmers into the Global Food System (September 4, 2015). in J. Liljeblad and A. Kennedy, Food Systems Governance: Challenges for Justice, Equality and Human Rights (London: Earthscan, 2016) pp. 143-162.

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