The Merchandising of Biodiversity
DOI link for The Merchandising of Biodiversity
The Merchandising of Biodiversity book
In many poor countries of the South, a positive environmental good has been provided by poor people, in the form of agricultural genetic resources. Here the poor do not only sell cheap, they have given away such genetic resources gratis. In situ agricultural biodiversity, which is not yet properly investigated and recorded, will lose its potential for coevolution as traditional agroecology disppears. The International Convention on Biodiversity, established in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 but not yet ratified by the US Congress, abolished the idea of genetic resources being the common patrimony of humankind. The Convention gives countries sovereignty over them, and leaves questions of ownership to national legislation. Who are now the owners of agricultural genetic resources, and also of wild genetic resources? Such questions are not theoretical. A few years ago, the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations tried to impose upon India the acceptance of intellectual property rights to commercial agricultural seeds. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) may yet be the final blow to traditional agriculture in southern Mexico, despite neo-zapatista resistance by indigenous peasants in Chiapas and other provinces. These two events raise general questions about the conservation of wild and agricultural diversity. This chapter focuses mainly on agricultural biodiversity and considers proposals for implementation of FAO-sponsored Farmers' Rights as well as other recent proposals.