Brainfood: Genetic diversity, Germplasm exchange, Genomic selection, New varieties, Maya agriculture, AnGR, Diverse planted forests, Vermont seeds, Wine appellation, Roots & tubers, Late blight, Nordic barley landraces

Finding common ground on the Seed Commons

The perspective of Seed Commons challenges the dominant narrative that the best pathway towards food and nutrition security for the world’s growing population is to foster privately-owned biotechnical innovations, supported by corresponding policy measures (see, for example, OECD 2018). It addresses major political impasses in the present international and national governance of varieties, seed and PGRFA that are based on such narratives and tend to be tailored towards the needs of private sector R&D, large-scale farms and ‘industrial’ food systems, hampering the necessary transition of farming and food systems towards more sustainable outcomes (IPES-Food 2016). By exploring innovative governance models for seed, varieties and PGRFA, Seed Commons could thus provide opportunities to reconsider how innovation could be fostered in a way to better serve current and future needs of farmers and society.

Well that’s exciting. Though I’m a slightly miffed that there was a whole symposium about Seed Commons and nobody told me.

Anyway, check out in particular the paper by Halewood and co-authors, which tries to answer the question: What institutional innovations can enhance farmers’ agency in the evolving global crop commons through use of their specialized knowledge and experience?

Spoiler alert: it’s made-to-measure biocultural community protocols designed to promote farming communities’ access to crop genetic resources from elsewhere1 for experimentation, improvement and management as part of their local production systems. But not only, so read the whole thing. And the other papers too.

  1. No doubt the risks involved in obtaining germplasm “from elsewhere” were mitigated using this handy tool. []