Selected Publications - Abstract

Cleveland, David A. and Stephen C. Murray (1997) The World's Crop Genetic Resources and the Rights of Indigenous Farmers. Current Anthropology 38(4):477-515.

Farmer or folk crop varieties developed over many generations by indigenous farmers are an important component of global crop genetic resources for use by both industrial and indigenous agriculture. Currently there is a debate between advocates of indigenous farmers' rights in their folk varieties and the dominant world system which vests intellectual property rights (IPRs) to crop genetic resources only in industrial nation users of those resources, e.g. plant breeders and corporations. While indigenous peoples at the individual and group levels do have a broad range of IPRs in their folk varieties, they define and use them differently than does the industrial world. Therefore, industrial world IPR mechanisms are generally inappropriate for protecting the IPRs of indigenous farmers, but some could be used effectively. To meet indigenous farmers' need for protection, new approaches are being developed that embed indigenous farmers' rights in folk varieties in cultural, human, and environmental rights. More research on the cultural, social and agronomic roles of folk varieties, ongoing negotiation of the meaning of key concepts such as "crop genetic resources," "rights," and "indigenous," and an emphasis on a common goal of sustainability will help to resolve the debate.

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