The Custodians of Biodiversity
Sharing Access to and Benefits of Genetic Resources
Edited by Manuel Ruiz, Ronnie Vernooy
Routledge – 2011 – 198 pages
Globally, local and indigenous approaches to conserving biodiversity, crop improvement, and managing precious natural resources are under threat. Many communities have to deal with 'biopiracy,' for example. As well, existing laws are usually unsuitable for protecting indigenous and traditional knowledge and for recognizing collective rights, such as in cases of participatory plant breeding, where farmers, researchers and others join forces to improve existing crop varieties or develop new ones, based on shared knowledge and resources.
This book addresses these issues. It outlines the national and international policy processes that are currently underway to protect local genetic resources and related traditional knowledge and the challenges these initiatives have faced. In particular these themes are addressed within the context of the Convention of Biological Diversity and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The authors broaden the policy and legal debates beyond the sphere of policy experts to include the knowledge-holders themselves. These are the 'custodians of biodiversity': farmers, herders and fishers in local communities. Their experience in sharing access and benefits to genetic resources is shown to be crucial for the development of effective national and international agreements. The book presents and analyzes this experience, including case studies from China, Cuba, Honduras, Jordan, Nepal, Peru and Syria.
Copublished with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
Part 1: The Global Debate 1. Introduction: Widening the Horizon 2. The Policy and Legal Context for Access and Benefit Sharing. 3. A Brief Review of Recent Access and Benefit Sharing Initiatives Part 2: Practical Experiences from Around the World 4. Introducing the Case Studies: Access and Benefit Sharing in Practice 5. Peru: Seeking Benefit Sharing Through a Defensive Approach: The Experience of the National Commission for the Prevention of Biopiracy 6. Syria: Participatory Barley Breeding: Farmers’ Input becomes Everyone’s Gain 7. Jordan: In Search of New Benefit-Sharing Practices through Participatory Plant Breeding 8. Honduras: Rights of Farmers and Breeders Rights in the New Globalizing Context 9. China: Designing Policies and Laws to Ensure Fair Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources and Participatory Plant Breeding Products 10. Cuba: The Benefits of Participation: Strengthening Local Seed Systems 11. Nepal: Innovative Mechanisms for Putting Farmers’ Rights into Practice 12. Conclusions: Race to the Bottom Versus Slow Walk to the Top. Epilogue: Architecture by Committee and the Conceptual Integrity of the Nagoya Protocol
Manuel Ruiz is Director of the Program of International Affairs and Biodiversity of the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA).
Ronnie Vernooy is an independent consultant and was a program officer at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, from 1992 until 2010.