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RESOURCES:

Breakthrough for 'the South'? An Analysis of the Recognition of Farmers' Rights in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources on Food and Agriculture

Bjørnstad, Svanhild-Isabelle Batta (2004):
Breakthrough for 'the South'? An Analysis of the Recognition of Farmers' Rights in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources on Food and Agriculture
(Lysaker, Norway: The Fridtjof Nansen Institute, FNI Report 13/2004)

Summary

This report analyses the influence of developing countries on the recognition of farmers' rights in the International Treaty. By comparing the developing countries' original proposals on the formulation of farmers' rights with the final text of the International Treaty, Batta Bjørnstad concludes that developing countries have had a medium breakthrough for their interests.

To explain this result, regime theories are applied, and it is found that how the negotiations were organized, as well as the entrepreneurial leadership of different actors, affected the possibilities for developing countries to get their interests attended to. At the same time, the issue-specific power of these countries was reduced, for two reasons: (1) Their control over crop genetic resources had decreased because much of the commercial interesting genetic resources had already been collected in international and private gene banks, and (2) various groups of developing countries developed differing interests and strategies. These constellations reduced their joint influence on the negotiations. On the other hand, the role of experts and NGOs as supporters of farmers' rights is found to have had an important impact on the negotiations.

Batta Bjørnstad's report represents a special contribution to the understanding of the development of farmers' rights in the 1990s and the context in which the provisions on farmers' rights of the International Treaty were negotiated. It contains a detailed analysis of the negotiation process leading to the International Treaty (pp. 49-72) as well as an overview over different positions (pp. 40-42). In explaining the negotiation result, it provides a comprehensive overview over the various actors in the negotiations and how they influenced the process (pp. 73-98). Additionally, it offers humorous and interesting anecdotes from the negotiation table.

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