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FNI PROJECTS

Governing Agrobiodiversity – Inter-Regime Conflicts on Plant Genetics and Developing Countries

Photo: Fulvio EccardiPlant genetic diversity is vital for the breeding of food crops and thus one of the central preconditions for food security. However, food crop genetic erosion is reportedly a serious problem, and for several major crops the variety losses have been up to 80-90% over the past century. At the same time, the interest in the commercial use of genetic resources has increased in line with the growing economic stakes of the biotechnologies, followed by demands for intellectual property rights. As patent systems are costly institutions, the capacity of developing countries to develop and effectively use such systems is limited. For this and other reasons, there have been many protests from the South against intellectual property rights to plant genetic resources. The international community has responded with regimes fully or partly pertaining to the management of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture: The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), and the International Convention on the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).

In this project, which has been the base for the doctoral dissertation of FNI Senior Research Fellow Regine Andersen, the effects of these overlapping international regimes for the domestic management of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture in developing countries have been analysed. The point of departure has been case studies in one country, the Philippines, and the results have been validated with regard to their relevance for other developing countries. The focus of the case studies has been on how actors that were engaged in the field of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture have influenced the processes leading to the legislation on this issue, and on the factors that have influenced the positions of these actors. In this context, the influence of international regimes on actor positions has been emphasised. Finally, the effects of these constellations on the implementation of the legislation have been analysed.

The doctoral dissertation was submitted and approved in 2006, and was successfully defended on 23 February 2007. An edited version of the dissertation will be published by Ashgate in 2008.


Project leader: Regine Andersen


Project period: 2000-2008


Selected publications:

Andersen, Regine, Governing Agrobiodiversity: Plant Genetics and Developing Countries. Aldershot, Ashgate, 2008, 420 p.

Andersen, Regine, Governing Agrobiodiversity: International Regimes, Plant Genetics and Developing Countries. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Oslo. Oslo, Unipub AS, 2007, xx, 537 p.

Andersen, Regine, Governing Agrobiodiversity: A Framework for Analysis of Aggregate Effects of International Regimes. Paper presented at the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Synthesis Conference, Bali, Indonesia, 6-9 December 2006.

Andersen, Regine, Governing Agrobiodiversity: The Emerging Tragedy of the Anti-Commons in the South. Paper for the 47th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, San Diego, USA, 22-25 March, 2006.

Andersen, Regine, Explaining Compliance with Intellectual Property Commitments: The Case of Agrobiodiversity. Paper for the 47th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, San Diego, USA, 22-25 March, 2006.

Andersen, Regine, 'Historien om poteten Linda' ('The story about the potato variety 'Linda''). Nationen, 11 August 2005. In Norwegian.

Andersen, Regine, 'Hvem skal eie bondens frø?' ('Who shall own farmer's seeds?'). Aftenposten, 18 May 2005. In Norwegian.

Andersen, Regine, The Interaction between International Agreements Pertaining to the Management of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the Response of Developing Countries. Paper presented at the 46th Annual ISA Convention, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1-5 March, 2005.

Andersen, Regine, 'Hvem kan styre en globalisert verden?' ('Who can govern a globalized world?'). Aftenposten, 16 December 2004. In Norwegian.

Andersen, Regine, 'FAO and the Management of Plant Genetic Resources'. In Stokke and Thommessen, Yearbook of International Co-operation on Environment and Development 2003/2004. London, Earthscan, 2003, pp. 43-53.

Andersen, Regine, 'The Time Dimension in International Regime Interplay'. Global Environmental Politics, Vol 2, No 3, 2002, pp. 98-117.

Andersen, Regine and Morten Walløe Tvedt, 'Historien om patent på gule bønner i USA: Kan man patentere en farge?' ('The story about the patents on yellow beans in the USA: Is it possible to patent a colour?'). Gen-i-alt, No 4, 2002, pp. 12-13. In Norwegian.

Andersen, Regine, How International Agreements Complicate the Management of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Developing Countries. Paper presented at the International Symposium Systaining Food Security and Managing Natural Resources in Southeast Asia: Challenges for the 21st Century, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 8-11 January, 2002.

Andersen, Regine, Conceptualising the Convention on Biological Diversity: Why is it difficult to determine the 'country of origin' of agricultural plant varieties? FNI report 7/2001. Lysaker: The Fridtjof Nansen Institute, 2001.
Top
 Related focal points of research:

   Biodiversity and biosafety


Project funding:

   The Research Council of Norway


Recent relevant FNI News:

New Book on International Regimes and the Management of Crop Genetic Resources (09.09.08)

FNI Research Helps Put Farmers' Rights on the Agenda (19.11.07)

Regine Andersen Obtains Doctoral Degree on Management of Plant Genetic Resources in Agriculture (23.02.07)

FNI Organizes Side Event on Farmers' Rights at FAO Meeting (07.06.06)


Recent media coverage:

'New Book on International Regimes and the Management of Crop Genetic Resources', Innovations Report, 10 September 2008.

'Disputas om internasjonal forvaltning av genressurser' ('Doctoral Defence on International Management of Genetic Resources'), Norwegian Genetic Resource Centre, 14 February 2007. In Norwegian.


Related document:

   FNI Research on Biological Diversity. Information brochure (PDF, 0.5 Mb)



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