Seeds are increasingly regulated in national legislation that is shaped by interests at international and regional levels. We examine how these evolving legal and institutional frameworks affect the conservation of and access to suitable seeds in fragile states and states particularly affected by climate change.

As a first step, this involves studying how domestic legal and institutional frameworks affect the relationship between formal and informal seed collections (gene banks) nationally and internationally. Here we combine legal and political science analysis with social anthropology, including gender perspectives.

The next bulk focuses on interaction between domestic seed legislation and the regulatory space that is left by international obligations and frameworks. Seed governance is subject to intense international debates and regulations, in particular aspects of access and intellectual property rights. We examine recent and understudied developments in these international regulatory frameworks.

Third, we analyse the role of seed banks and their role in conserving and making seed diversity available. Seed banks bridge local, national and international regulations and interests, but has received little academic attention. Through case studies in Armenia, India, Nepal and Syria we explore how seed banks relate to the interacting regulations, and how this affects their role in providing suitable seeds. A better understanding of implementation, the limits and discretion set in international law, and the role of gene banks, is useful for all major stakeholders.

Project Period: 2018-2021



  • Research Council of Norway, NORGLOBAL2 Programme


  • In Karl Zimmerer and Stef de Haan (eds), Agrobiodiversity. Integrating Knowledge for a Sustainable Future. MIT Press, 2019, pp. 283-305.