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Crop Genetic Resources as a Global Commons: Challenges in International Law and Governance

Series: Issues in Agricultural Biodiversity

By: Michael Halewood(Editor), Isabel López Noriega(Editor), Selim Louafi(Editor)

399 pages, b/w illustrations, tables


Paperback | Oct 2012 | #191273 | ISBN-13: 9781844078936
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £39.99 $51/€45 approx
Hardback | Oct 2012 | #191272 | ISBN-13: 9781844078929
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £95.00 $121/€106 approx

About this book

The Earth's plant genetic resources are a common inheritance of all humankind, which should be held in shared trust for a common future. A key component of the global genetic commons is agricultural biodiversity. Our food and livelihood security depend on the sustained management of these diverse biological resources that are important for food and agriculture. Whilst agricultural biodiversity originates in specific farming communities, it has been shared widely and is considered by many to be part of the much-threatened global commons.

Crop Genetic Resources as a Global Commons is about the creation, management and use of the global crop commons. It focuses primarily on the legal and administrative construct that provides the basis of the global crop commons, that is, the multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing created by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

This is particularly significant because it transcends the traditional dichotomy between privatization and total governmental control. It came into effect in 2006 and Crop Genetic Resources as a Global Commons describes its origins and implementation since then, showing how many international organizations and some developing countries are moving quickly with implementation, while other countries are moving slowly and some multinational corporations are expressing misgivings about the system overall. The authors further analyze current challenges and how they might be resolved.

"A rigorous, in-depth analysis of successful commons governance on a global scale has long been an under-researched, often overlooked and poorly understood area of study. Yet the critical importance collaborative management of global resources requires urgent attention. In this groundbreaking volume, Halewood, Noriega, and Louafi have assembled an international group of leading scholars and practitioners to systematically guide us through the complex terrain of crop genetic resources and agricultural biodiversity as global commons. The thoroughness of the analysis along with the lessons learned from practical applications will serve as indispensable tools for students of all types of global-commons resources."
– Charlotte Hess, co-editor with Elinor Ostrom of Understanding Knowledge as a Commons and Associate Dean for Research, Collections, and Scholarly Communication for Syracuse University Library

"The preservation and enhancement of agrobiodiversity is of huge importance in a world that shall witness more disruptive climate shocks in the future, and in which food-deficit regions shall be increasingly dependent on food-surplus regions. This volume makes a strong case for governing plant genetic resources in ways that promote the evolution and conservation of agrobiodiversity, and to ensure that they are available to be used by all regions to adapt better to a changing environment. Yet, it is more than just another book about the governance of natural resources by the best experts in the field: it is also an indispensable tool to understand the future of agriculture in a world of dwindling resources and biodiversity loss."
– Olivier de Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

"These meticulous studies of the FAO Treaty are of major theoretical and empirical importance to scholars and practitioners seeking a workable, transnational regime to govern all genetic resources for research and benefit sharing under the evolving international legal framework."
– Jerome H. Reichman, Bunyan S. Womble Professor of Law, Duke Law School, USA



PART 1: Setting the scene: countries' interdependence on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the imperative of multilateral approaches to access and benefit-sharing
1. The Evolving Global System of Sonservation and Use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture: What is It, and Where Does the Treaty Fit It?
2. Demonstrating Interdependence on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
3. Flows of Crop Germplasm Into and Out of China
4. Crop and Forage Genetic Resources: International Interdependence in the Face of Climate Change
5. A Pre-Treaty Baseline Study: Declining Rates of Genebanks' Acquisitions

PART 2: The history and design of the Treaty's multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing
6. Brief History of the Negotiations of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
7. The Design and Mechanics of the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing
8. Protecting the Interests of the Multilateral System: the Third

Party Beneficiary
9. Plant Genetic Resources "Under the Management and Control of the Contracting

Parties and in the Public Domain": How Rich is the Basket of the Multilateral System?
10. Efforts to Get the Multilateral System Up and Running: A Review of Activities Coordinated by the Treaty Secretariat

PART 3: Now that we have built the multilateral system, how do we make it work?
11. Experiences of Countries in the Implementation of the Multilateral System. Achievements and Challenges
12. Collective Action Challenges in the Implementation of the Multilateral System. What Roles for the CGIAR Centres?
13. International and Regional Cooperation in the Implementation of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

PART 4: Critical reflections
14. The Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing: Could it Have Been Constructed Another Way?
15. The Emergence of Annex 1: The List of Crops Covered Under the Multilateral System. Reflections on Possible Future Expansions or Contractions
16. Creating a Global Crop Information Commons
17. From Negotiations to Implementation: Global Review of Achievements, Bottlenecks and Opportunities for the Treaty in General, and the Multilateral System in
18. Institutionalizing Global Genetic-resource Commons: Towards Alternative Models for Facilitating Access in the Global Biodiversity Regime
19. Institutionalizing global genetic resource commons for food and agriculture Tom Dedeurwaerdere


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Michael Halewood is a Senior Scientist and Head of the Policy Research and Support Unit at Bioversity International, Rome, Italy. He is also a qualified barrister and solicitor, and coordinates representation of the International Agricultural Research Centres (IARCs) and of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in international genetic resources policy-making fora.

Isabel López Noriega is a legal specialist in the Policy Research and Support Unit of Bioversity International in Rome.

Selim Louafi is based at the Centre de cooperation internationale en recherche agronomique pour le developpement (CIRAD), Montpellier, France.

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