Brainfood: Ethiopian ABS, Horse double, Grapevine double, Naked barley, Sub clover diversity, Soybean diversity, USDA sorghum, Chicken diversity double, VAM, Oz wild rice

One Reply to “Brainfood: Ethiopian ABS, Horse double, Grapevine double, Naked barley, Sub clover diversity, Soybean diversity, USDA sorghum, Chicken diversity double, VAM, Oz wild rice”

  1. Ethiopian ABS. I have some problems with this. Generically, why should Ethiopia and several other countries ratify the ITPGRFA when they have no intention of distributing samples? It makes more sense to stay out.

    Specifically, the paper notes: “…restriction as international germplasm access was limited following the CBD ratification…” citing Falcon & Fowler (2002), which contains a major error. Falcon & Fowler (p. 210) claim that CG Centre genebanks: “averaged 9782 acquisitions annually for the five calendar years before the CBD. In 1997, the last year for which data are available, the number of new accessions was only 563.” [The apparent purpose of this claim was to rubbish the CBD and to demonstrate a need for the FAO Seed Treaty]. Yet in their attempt to link the CBD to a dramatic fall in Centre acquisitions, Falcon & Fowler totally misrepresent the facts. The number of new acquisitions in 1997 was 12,756, not 563 (SINGER database – the same as used by Falcon & Fowler). Note that this was actually higher than the average rate for the five years preceding the CBD. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We did not need the ITPGRFA.

    The TAC Review of 1972 recommended a series of regional genebanks. The West German Government funded two of these, one in CATIE in Costa Rica and one in Ethiopia, both intended as regional ‘International’ genebanks. However, the concept of internationality was never accepted by Ethiopia: the Mulesa & Westengen paper notes for 1976 the establishment of Ethiopia’s national genebank (PGRC/E) – in fact this was the GTZ project specifically for an international genebank.

    There is some paranoia: the Mulesa & Westengen paper cites an anonymous source on the “massive export of germplasm to Germany” with the apparent belief that germplasm was then sent on from Germany to all rich countries. Also sample copies retained in Ethiopia “were all damaged due to improper storage conditions.” I was the GTZ project manager for PGRC/E during this period. There was not a massive export of samples to Germany (unless this was to the communist regime in East Germany – DDR). We were allowed to send out nothing (although this breached the Project Agreement). Also, as soon as possible, we purchased and installed cold stores for sample storage: “all samples” were not damaged. Throughout the period we were planning and commissioning the excellent PGRC/E.

    There is some irony in the comment of Pat Mooney: “…overwhelmingly the South was a massive contributor of free germplasm, and … the North was actively using the germplasm to develop new varieties protected by IPR.” That is, Ethiopia was being ripped off. But it wasn’t. The almost absolute failure of the ITPGRFA to generate income by a tax on plant patents illustrates that any ripping-off was puny. RAFI was ‘massively’ meddling in Ethiopian PGR policy. There is further irony in Ethiopia’s position on the table of use of introduced crops – fifth from the bottom of 32 African countries, just above Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger: a self-imposed disaster based on the false belief that local crops do better (much propagated by international NGOs). This is ‘dog in the manger’ policy.

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