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RESOURCES:

Valuing Farmers' Rights

Gollin, D, (1998)
Valuing Farmers' Rights
Pp. 233-245 in R. Evenson, D. Gollin & V. Santaniello (eds) (1998): Agricultural Values of Plant Genetic Resources (Wallingford: FAO/CEIS/CABI Publishing)

Summary

This book chapter argues that there are significant potential hazards to the South in seeking to establish a system of farmers' rights based on intellectual property rights or other forms of property rights.

The point of departure for the analysis is the international flows of genetic resources, which have been multi-directional between the South and the North, the South and the South, and the North and the North. Gollin proceeds to a detailed analysis of the international flows of genetic resources in rice and its implications for the question of compensation. The great majority of the rice varieties covered by the study (1709 varieties) were developed using breeding lines from outside the country of release. Most countries in the study were found to be net borrowers of landraces. Large importers of germplasm with regard to the varieties dealt with here are Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Nigeria and Vietnam. Under a compensation system, they would be the losers, whereas for example the United States would be a winner, since it is a large exporter of rice germplasm. However, the author warns against drawing general conclusions on the basis of the data, due to some methodological problems. Rather, the results should be seen as illustrating some important empirical questions relating to gainers and losers under farmers' rights - if these are understood as property rights. The basic conclusion is that there is no guarantee that the South would gain from such a system.
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Nepal. Photo: Regine Andersen, FNI