What are Farmers' Rights?
Farmers' Rights related to crop genetic resources refer to the rights that farmers have with regard to seed, propagating material and crop genetic diversity in general – and associated knowledge. Basically, realizing Farmers' Rights means enabling farmers to maintain and develop crop genetic diversity, and recognizing and rewarding them for this indispensable contribution to the global pool of genetic resources and to local and global food security.
This website is about Farmers' Rights as they are addressed in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The Treaty recognizes the enormous contributions made by farmers worldwide in conserving and developing crop genetic resources. This constitutes the basis of Farmers' Rights. According to the Treaty, governments are to protect and promote Farmers' Rights, but can choose the measures to do so according to their needs and priorities. Measures may include (Article 9):
- the protection of traditional knowledge relevant to crop genetic resources
- the right to participate in equitable in sharing benefits arising from the utilization of crop genetic resources
- the right to participate in making decisions, at the national level, on matters related to crop genetic resources
- rights that farmers have to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed/propagating material, subject to national law.
The International Treaty does, however, not define Farmers' Rights. The following is a working definition developed on the basis of the research carried out under the Farmers' Rights Project and can be seen as a lowest common denominator of the stakeholders consulted and the documents and literature surveyed:
Farmers' Rights consist of the customary rights of farmers to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed and propagating material, their rights to be recognized, rewarded and supported for their contribution to the global pool of genetic resources as well as to the development of commercial varieties of plants, and to participate in decision making on issues related to crop genetic resources and related knowledge.
Information about Farmers’ Rights is also available at the website of the International Treaty.
Text: Regine Andersen