Farmers' Crop Varieties and Farmers' Rights:
Challenges in Taxonomy and Law
| Halewood, Michael (ed.)(2016):
Varieties and Farmers' Rights: Challenges in Taxonomy and Law
(Abdingdon, UK: Routledge)
Over the last 50 years
there has been a growing appreciation of the important role that farmers play
in the development and conservation of crop genetic diversity, and the
contribution of that diversity to agro-ecosystem resilience and food security.
This book examines policies that aim to increase the share of benefits that
farmers receive when others use the crop varieties that they have developed and
managed, i.e., 'farmers varieties'. In so doing, the book addresses two
fundamental questions. The first question is 'how do farmer management
practices - along with other factors such as environment and the breeding
systems of plants - affect the evolution and maintenance of discrete farmers'
varieties?' The second question is 'how can policies that depend on being able
to identify discrete plant varieties accommodate the agricultural realities
associated with the generation, use and maintenance of farmers' varieties?'
This focus on discreteness is topical because there are no fixed,
internationally recognized taxonomic or legal definitions of farmers'
varieties. And that presents a challenge when developing policies that involve
making specific, discrete farmers' varieties the subject of legal rights or
The book includes contributions from a wide range of experts
including agronomists, anthropologists, geneticists, biologists, plant
breeders, lawyers, development practitioners, activists and farmers. It
includes case studies from Asia, Africa, Latina America and Europe where, in
response to a diversity of contributing factors, there have been efforts to
develop policies that provide incentives or rewards to farmers as stewards of
farmers' varieties in ways that are sensitive to the cultural, taxonomic and
legal complexities involved. The book situates these initiatives in the context
of the evolving discourse and definition of 'farmers' rights', presenting
insights for future policy initiatives.