Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Christophe Geiger
Chapter 28: Right to food and intellectual property protection for plant genetic resources
This chapter sets out to consider the interface between the right to food, as a fundamental human right, and the protection of intellectual property for plant genetic resources (PGR). At the outset, it is important to explain why plant genetic resources are so important for the realization of the right to food. Crop diversity is the biological cornerstone of global food security. Therefore, equity in the way PGR are used and exchanged, and the benefits arising from agricultural science and technology made available, is key to alleviating poverty. When it comes to crop diversity, all countries and peoples are inter-dependent and no country in the world is self-sufficient in terms of its endowment of PGR. In addition, the sustainable use, improvement and in situ conservation of crop diversity play an essential role as a livelihood and food-security strategy for small-scale farmers. In the face of climate change, access to crop genetic diversity is essential for agricultural adaptation and survival. Thus, PGR are a strategic resource for sustainable agriculture and they underpin nutritional well-being and human health. For all the above reasons, legal requirements that restrict access to, and use of, crop diversity, whether they belong to intellectual property or biodiversity-related legislation, run the risk of having a negative impact on the progressive realization of the right to food. Section 2 of the chapter presents major developments concerning the legal recognition and the progressive realization of the right to adequate food as a fundamental human right.
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