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Agricultural Biodiversity, Intellectual Property Rights and Farmers' Rights

Shiva, Vandana (1996):
Agricultural Biodiversity, Intellectual Property Rights and Farmers' Rights
Economic and Political Weekly, 22 June 1996


This article provides insights into the process prior to the adoption of the Indian Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act of 2001.

Vandana Shiva describes two lines of development: (1) legislative efforts to meet the requirements of the TRIPS Agreement with regard to plant genetic resources and (2) the prospects for farmers' rights in India. She presents evidence of influence from the USA and from transnational corporations on the introduction of intellectual property rights to plant varieties in India. After showing how international agreements may affect national efforts to realize farmers' rights, she goes on to discuss various approaches to imposing legislation on farmers' rights in India. Farmers' rights are not a privilege or a concession, nor are they merely a fund. Farmers' rights are based on the past, present and future contributions of farmers to the global genetic pool, as breeders as well as conservers, and they are collective rights. Farmers' traditional knowledge should be recognized, not only the genetic material they produce. Their role as custodians of genetic resources should likewise be respected. Farmers' rights should also include ecological security and food security, Shiva concludes.
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Nepal. Photo: Regine Andersen, FNI