Nibbles: Wild bees, Korean rice, Peanut coffee, Ag research, Sugarcane, Eat This Newsletter

One Reply to “Nibbles: Wild bees, Korean rice, Peanut coffee, Ag research, Sugarcane, Eat This Newsletter”

  1. The op-ed: a much simpler world indeed. For no obvious reason, this op-ed is entirely based on a RAFI report of 1994, the full title of which was “Conserving Indigenous Knowledge: Integrating Two Systems of Innovation”. Rather than addressing this title, the RAFI report made much of the cash value of germplasm from developing countries to the economy of developed countries. For example: “RAFI estimates that that the contribution of International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs)-held germplasm to developed country crop production is at least 5,000 million US dollars per annum, almost all of these [sic] germplasm has been collected in developing countries.”
    Unfortunately, this and other like claims had a profound impact on the success of a subsequent Treaty (the ITPGRFA of 2004) which RAFI tried to encourage countries to “Ratify, ratify, ratify”. Fat chance of the Treaty being successful as RAFI had been telling developing countries for at least a decade that they were being ripped off by developed countries. This was a substantial `own goal’ by the North American funders of RAFI, as shutters came down on hitherto free access (except from CGIAR genebanks).
    A more rational approach – which I had already taken in 1988 [] – was to detail the value of germplasm from developing countries to other developing countries, that is, the cash value of intercontinental crop introduction. “The [Latin] American developing countries show a high level of production of introduced crops (ranging from 48% to 99%). African countries show a wide range of levels of introduced crop production (18% to 99%). Of 72 developing countries, 50 (69%) have more than half their crop production from introduced crops.” I concluded: “The continued improvement of introduced crops worth $100 bn annually to developing countries has been overlooked in the current international debate on plant genetic resources and may be placed in jeopardy by increasing emphasis on issues of conservation and ownership of plant germplasm, to the neglect of plant introduction.” (Notably, this well outweighs the $5 bn advantage to developed countries of CGIAR germplasm reported by RAFI). Sadly, RAFI’s trumpet was louder than mine.
    Ag-economists could no doubt calculate, to the nearest billion dollars or so, the damage done by RAFI to subsequent global crop production.

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