International discussions on agricultural biodiversity - an introduction to key concepts

International discussions on agricultural biodiversity - an introduction to key concepts

An overview of current international discussions and negotiations regarding agricultural biodiversity

This report gives an overview of current international discussions and negotiations regarding agricultural biodiversity. In particular it explores the following four concepts:

  • Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs): In the realm of agriculture, patents and plant breeders’ rights are most common. IPRs spur genetic erosion because they promote genetically uniform crops that replace farmers’ varieties
  • Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS): ABS may halt genetic erosion if the benefits that are being shared are channelled into conservation work
  • Farmers’ Rights: Recognition of Farmers’ Rights will halt genetic erosion because they are supportive of farmers’ sustainable management of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA)
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO): GMOs may spur genetic erosion because they replace other varieties and may contaminate wild relatives.

At the international level, these issues are mainly discussed in relation to the negotiation for international agreements or during debates in international organisations. In this regard, the most relevant conventions and organisations are the following:

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
  • The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA)
  • The International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV)
  • The Agreement for Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
  • World Trade Organisation (WTO)
  • World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)