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Protecting farmers' rights in the global IPR regime

Publication date:
R. Andersen
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In developing countries, the vast majority of farmers still act as stewards and innovators of genetic diversity and farmers' rights are about enabling this to continue and rewarding them for their contribution to the global genetic pool. This policy brief explores the core challenges and policy options for countries attempting to implement farmers' rights within the context of intellectual property rights (IPRs).The brief identifies three major challenges:

upholding and developing legal space for farmers' customary practices related to agro-biodiversity
creating support mechanisms for farmers' contributions to the global pool of genetic resources
enabling farmers' participation in relevant decision-making processes.

The author discusses the first two challenges, and suggests various policy options that developing countries have for protecting farmers' rights within the context of intellectual property rights (IPR). Key points include:

raising awareness on the importance of farmers' rights for food security and poverty reduction remains a pressing challenge
a definition of farmers' rights as proposed in the brief may be instrumental in furthering dialogue among stakeholders on the measures to be taken
a legal space needs to be created within legislative frameworks for farmers' stewardship and innovations in agriculture
a funding mechanism at the national and international levels must be established in order to scale up activities supporting farmers in their vital contribution to the global genetic pool.