Save the seed! IP rights on seed and the impact on developing country farmers
Date: 26 June 2012
Time: 6.00pm - 8.00pm
Venue: Linklaters LLP, 1 Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8HQ
The IP group welcomes Teresa Anderson (The Gaia Foundation) and Dr Mike Adcock (Durham Law School, Durham University) to lead a discussion on how intellectual property rights over seeds in the developing world are changing the shape of agriculture.
Farmers all over the world have traditionally saved seed, carefully selecting the varieties most appropriate to local soil and resistant to local pests. However, as small scale farmers have come under growing pressure from governments to produce crops for export, genetically modified seeds and their promise of higher yields due to their resistance to pests and tolerance of herbicides have become an increasingly attractive option.
Yet this approach can create a dependence on commercial seed companies, from whom farmers are contracted to purchase their annual seed stock, with the potential to erode traditional practices and knowledge.
What role can the law play to ensure small-scale farmers in developing countries are able to continue to make a living from their land?
WTOThe World Trade Organisation is an international organisation whose main aim is to promote free trade of goods, services and intellectual property around the world. members are required to provide minimum intellectual property protection, including for new plant varieties, but the flexibilities provided by the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement may allow countries to develop a ‘sui generis’ IP protection regime to balance the rights of the holder and the rights of the farmer . However, many states lack the technical and legal capacity to devise their own regime which puts farmers’ rights, and biodiversity, at risk.
To provide an introduction to issues under discussion at this event, we will be showing Seeds of Freedom, a new short film co-produced by the African Biodiversity Network and The Gaia Foundation exploring the history of commercial seed production and its impact on communities across the world, at the start of the session.
The screening will be held from 6pm – 6.30pm.
Following the film, our speakers will consider the social and environmental implications of intellectual property rights on seed, and explore how an IP framework and contractual practice need to develop to protect patent, seed and farmers.
Teresa Anderson is international advocacy officer for the African Biodiversity Network at the Gaia Foundation. Teresa helped to pioneer the very first "Transition Town" in Totnes, Devon and set up the food group, working with the community to build resilience in local food production, and reduce dependency on oil.
Dr Mike Adcock is a Lecturer at the Durham Law School, Durham University where he lectures on Intellectual Property and Biotechnology and the Relationship between science, law and bioethics. Dr Adcock has worked on an EU funded ‘Plant Intellectual Property’ looking at the attitudes towards, and use of, intellectual property rights by the European plant breeding community, and he published widely on intellectual property, farmers’ rights and bioethics.
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