Brainfood: PGR commons, Tomato GWAS, Mango pollen, Grapevine cryo, Synthetic wheat diversity, Wild lettuce diversity, Indian homegardens, Ghats agrobiodiversity, Indian cattle, Wild potato genecology, Composite genomics, Conservation targets

by Luigi Guarino on September 9, 2013

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Wood September 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Mike Halewood’s paper on a new global commons for PGRFA looks at the ITPGRFA through the `lens of recent commons scholarship’ and finds problems. It is a serious attempt to address these problems but there was no need of any `recent scholarship’ to flag problems. From a background of coal-face genetic resource management and collecting I started 15 years ago to tell everyone and his/her dog that the nascent Treaty was a mess and would be a quicksand. I even toyed with the idea that the Treaty was designed (as opposed to destined) to fail – so that all those happy small farmers doing their own seed production and `evolving’ indigenous crops to perfect `local adaptation’ could be protected from improved varieties and exotic crops (worth thinking about).
The Treaty could never succeed in the light of the decades long `biopiracy’ campaign. Countries think that their varieties were stolen, patented by multinational and then sold back to their farmers – only very marginally true and almost lost in the vast benefits of access to free varieties from international plant breeding and spill-overs from developed country plant breeding and, most of all, the importance of introduced crops.
The new Director of the GCDT has been telling Brazil that, for staple foods, it is 90% dependent on crop introduction: this is the right approach – continue to access germplasm from elsewhere or starve (or, for South America – threaten your vast exports of introduced crops such as wheat and soybean shipped to Asia).
There is lots more in Mike’s paper to approve and also critique but his conclusion that samples should be denied to non-members of the Treaty is not possible for the CGIAR to implement.
Finally – could we have everything produced by Bioversity on policy to be open access. I am not about to pay Routledge to get something I need to make a case for scrapping the Treaty and moving to the mutual benefits of crop introduction – worth many, many billions of dollars – not least because most exported crops come from countries to which they had been previously introduced.

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Mike Jackson September 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Well said, Dave, although I try to be less cynical about the Treaty.

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