Fowler, Cary (2001): Protecting Farmer Innovation: The Convention on Biological Diversity and the Question of Origin
Fowler, Cary. (2001). Protecting Farmer Innovation: The Convention on Biological Diversity and the Question of Origin. Jurimetrics, 41(4), pp. 477-488.
The objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are "the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources...." The CBD states that access is provided on the basis of "prior informed consent" and under "mutually agreed terms." Only countries that are "countries of origin" are empowered to give this consent and agree to terms. The definition of "countries of origin," however, lacks clarity and scientific rigor as applied to domesticated and cultivated species. Agricultural biodiversity is the product of innovation whether in farmer-selected crop varieties or the latest biotechnologically produced gene construct. How such innovations and associated technologies will be protected and derivative benefits apportioned has been the subject of controversy for centuries. The CBD aimed, in part, to address this question. The particular strategy employed by the CBD, however, is not likely to be successful, given the difficulties that will surely be encountered in identifying "countries of origin" for plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.