Globally, local and indigenous approaches to conserving biodiversity, crop improvement, and managing precious natural resources are under threat. Many communities have to deal with 'biopiracy,' for example. As well, existing laws are usually unsuitable for protecting indigenous and traditional knowledge and for recognizing collective rights, such as in cases of participatory plant breeding, where farmers, researchers and others join forces to improve existing crop varieties or develop new ones, based on shared knowledge and resources.

This book addresses these issues. It outlines the national and international policy processes that are currently underway to protect local genetic resources and related traditional knowledge and the challenges these initiatives have faced. In particular these themes are addressed within the context of the Convention of Biological Diversity and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The authors broaden the policy and legal debates beyond the sphere of policy experts to include the knowledge-holders themselves. These are the 'custodians of biodiversity': farmers, herders and fishers in local communities. Their experience in sharing access and benefits to genetic resources is shown to be crucial for the development of effective national and international agreements. The book presents and analyzes this experience, including case studies from China, Cuba, Honduras, Jordan, Nepal, Peru and Syria.

Copublished with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

part |154 pages

Practical experiences from around the world

chapter |10 pages


Seeking benefit sharing through a defensive approach—the experience of the National Commission for the Prevention of Biopiracy

chapter |14 pages


Participatory barley breeding—farmers' input becomes everyone's gain

chapter |12 pages


In search of new benefit-sharing practices through participatory plant breeding

chapter |15 pages


Rights of farmers and breeders' rights in the new globalizing context

chapter |27 pages


Designing policies and laws to ensure fair access and benefit sharing of genetic resources and participatory plant breeding products

chapter |14 pages


The benefits of participation—strengthening local seed systems

chapter |28 pages


Innovative mechanisms for putting farmers' rights into practice

chapter |18 pages


Race to the bottom versus slow walk to the top

chapter |8 pages


Architecture by committee and the conceptual integrity of the Nagoya Protocol *