Tag Archives: united nations

Update to post: Report to the UN General Assembly on “The Right to Food”

Update to post: Report to the UN General Assembly on “The Right to Food”  https://casipblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/seed-policies-and-the-right-to-food-enhancing-agrobiodiversity-and-encouraging-innovation-report-to-the-un-general-assembly/

On the 15th October 2009, we published a post about the Report to the UN General Assembly on “Seed Policies and the Right to Food”.  This document has also been sent to us by numerous contacts in our extended network.   Victoria Henson-Apollonio, Manager of CAS-IP has some initial comments:

“Intellectual Property Rights and seed systems feature in the report of the special rapporteur on the Right to Food of the UN. These are key issues for the CGIAR. It is very important to note that this report now raises awareness among an audience that may not have previously realised the importance of these issues. The recommendations are a comprehensive catalog of ideas encompassing a wide range of suggestions. However, the summary itself seems to be an industrious recap of arguments and ideas that some may consider well known and in some cases even outdated.

For those of us that work in this uneven terrain on a daily basis, it seems a missed opportunity for serious discussion on the dynamic relationships between the domain of IPRs/farmers rights/farmer preferences/contracts/contract law/competition law/seed law and food security.

It is on one hand heartening to see these issues being presented at such a high level.  However, the lasting impression I have after reading the document is of disappointment and sadness of missed opportunities. Of course we have to wait for the full report and hope that it provides a clearer analysis of solid data.  It is curious to note that for several people in our IP in agriculture & development network, this report came as a surprise; they (including us at CAS-IP) have so far not been consulted even though the CGIAR is specifically referred to and this is our area of experience from a practical level. The recommendations of the report will involve many, many years of hard work.  It is essential that recommendations logically flow from an analysis of the data and that clear indicators are developed to measure success in obtaining the goals.

Let’s wait for the presentation of the background documents that have led to the report, monitor reactions in the mean time.  Let’s involve ourselves in the discussions that likely follow from the political attention that these important issues have received.”

“Seed policies and the right to food; enhancing agrobiodiversity and encouraging innovation.” Report to the UN General Assembly

“Seed policies and the right to food”; The Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food from the UN website*

(*I was having problems with this link today; so if you too have problems  connecting to the UN docs library link then please try this alternative link from the “Voices from Africa” website — Kay)

The report is written by Olivier De Schutter who is currently the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.  Click here for the annoucement that it will be presented at the UN General Assembly on October 21st.

The Summary concludes with:

“The…report explores how States could implement seed policies that contribute to the full realization of human rights. It identifies how research and development could best serve the poorest farmers in developing countries, and how commercial seed systems could be regulated to serve the right to food and ensure the right of all to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. Finally, it examines how farmers’ seed systems could best be supported, in order to serve the interest of all in the preservation of agrobiodiversity.”

The report looks, in some detail, at IP issues and at the role of TRIPS, UPOV and CBD.  Section headings include:

  • The developing regime of IP rights and biodiversity protection
  • The expansion of IP rights
  • The protection of biodiversity and the risk of misappropriation of genetic resources
  • Crop genetic diversity as a global public good
  • Redirecting innovation towards the realization of the right to food
  • IP rights in the commercial seed systems and the right to food
  • Farmers’ seed systems and the right to food

In the conclusion, the report calls for continued innovation on all fronts and urges a non-linear approach:

“Our paradigm of agricultural development must…be redefined”.

Donors and both the CGIAR and FAO are called upon to assist and support such innovation.

This report underlines the complexity of the work we are engaged in pursuing, and focuses attention on IP issues.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP