Knowledge for Development

Relevant publications

The bumpy path towards knowledge convergence for pro-poor agro-biotechnology regulation and development: exploring Kenya’s regulatory process

Knowledge production dynamics are explored through an empirical account that documents the biotechnology regulatory trajectory in Kenya over almost two decades. The author, Ann Njoki Kingiri, of the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), Nairobi, Kenya, bases her analysis on papers describing the political nature under which biotechnology development and biosafety regulation have co-evolved. She concludes that scientific knowledge predominantly directs biotechnology development and regulation. Although this process has lacked legal direction, she suggests that lessons learnt from Kenya’s regulatory process should move the country’s biotechnology sector to a higher level in putting the research products in the pipeline to use. (InTech publishers, 14/03/2012)Download the article (PDF) 


The Australian Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) framework: A model case for bioprospecting?

Despite a pioneering ABS legislation in Australia, there is still only one biodiscovery case involving commercial benefit sharing under Commonwealth legislation. One lesson is the need for improving the dynamic element in ABS contracts, building in a clearer trigger point for when the obligations to share are actualised and to reverse the burden of tracking and follow-up to the user rather than leaving it to the provider. Linking the ABS and IPR legislation through disclosure of the source of biological resources in patent applications can be an appropriate legal measure to track compliance. Fridtjof Nansen Institute  (FNI) ABS expert researchers argue the outside world would also benefit from Australia being a party of the Nagoya Protocol because the country has learned many ABS lessons to be shared with other parties of which many will not have come nearly as far in their ABS experience. Among others, there are lessons about drawing up an effective regulatory system, but also about legal challenges for federal nations with mixed jurisdictions between the federal and state level. These lessons concern partnerships between public academic institutions and the private sector with great benefits for both parties, as well as difficulties in distinguishing scientific from commercial biodiscovery and defining roles.   (FNI, 01/2014)


Contending issues of Intellectual Property Rights protection and indigenous knowledge of pharmacology in SSA

This paper by Chika A. Ezeanya, Director of the African Institute for Research in Indigenous Solutions, Rwanda, explores the continued and increasing patenting and profiting from Africa’s indigenous pharmacopeia by western businesses. It calls for increased involvement of governments, civil society groups, concerned citizens and institutions in the protection of Africa’s indigenous pharmacology, and for the adoption of a culturally oriented and sensitive approach of indigenous medical heritage. Specifically, the ‘domain public payant’, documentation and sui generis (uniqueness in its own characteristics) options are discussed.   (The Journal of Pan African Studies, 10/2013)


Realising Farmers' Rights to Crop Genetic Resources: Success Stories and Best Practices

This book by researchers from the Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI), Norway provides decision-makers and practitioners with a conceptual framework for understanding ‘Farmers’ Rights’ in the  context of crop genetic resources (CGR) sharing. The book compiles success stories showing how each of the elements of Farmers' Rights to CGR can be realised in practice. The stories  (from Ethiopia, Mali and Zimbabwe, among others) describe how substantial achievements have been made on several important fronts of the Farmer’s Rights charter, such as in the rights of  farmers to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed; the protection of traditional knowledge; benefit-sharing; and participation in decision-making.(Routledge, 18/06/2013)


Geography of food: reconnecting with origin in the food system

This document provides reading material for the 31st Brussels Development Briefing on ‘Geography of food: reconnecting with origin in the food system’. Origin-linked products described by geographical indications (GIs) are those that have specific quality attributes or reputation linked to the places where they are produced.(CTA Brussels Briefings, 05/2013)


Guidelines: access and benefit sharing in research projects

These guidelines describe the type of agreements that can be used in access and benefit sharing in research projects. Their primary audience are scientists working with crop genetic resources and related traditional knowledge in research organisations. They can also be useful for authorities involved in legislative processes on the matter and for local populations who participate in research and development projects dealing with the conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity. This publication is based on the experience gained during the implementation of the project ‘In situ/On farm Conservation and Use of Agricultural Biodiversity (Horticultural Crops and Wild Fruit Species) in Central Asia’. (Agrobiodiversity Platform, 12/4/2013) 


Factors affecting access to and protection of aquaculture genetic resources

Actors in the aquaculture sector face emerging difficulties pertaining to affordable access to improved breeding material and technology, while also securing adequate funding for sustainable breeding programmes. Public ownership or support seems to be important measures to balance these objectives. This is particularly the case during the early phases of implementation and operation of applied aquaculture breeding programs. This study thus investigates how actors in the sector access aquatic genetic material and protect innovations in breeding. It analyses how corporate strategies, technological developments, and international regulatory regimes affect these options. (FNI, 03/2013) 


Factors affecting access to and protection of aquaculture genetic resources

The study investigates how actors in the aquaculture sector access aquatic genetic material and protect innovations in breeding. It analyses how corporate strategies, technological developments, and international regulatory regimes affect these options., 03/2013)


A review of existing regulatory systems for GM food products labelling

The labelling of GM foods is a key issue in the ongoing debate over the risks and benefits of food crops produced using biotechnology. This Legal and Policy Brief of the African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE, African Union/NEPAD) reviews the labelling requirements of genetically modified (GM) food products for developing countries and developed countries including: South Africa, Kenya, European Union and USA. This brief clarifies the major dichotomy that separates countries with voluntary labelling guidelines from those with mandatory labelling requirements. (AU/NEPAD ABNE, 2013) 


The access and benefit sharing agreement on teff genetic resources: facts and lessons

This report tells the story of an agreement on access to teff genetic resources in Ethiopia, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use, that was hailed as one of the most advanced of its time. The agreement was seen as a pilot case for the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in terms of access and benefit sharing. The implementation of the agreement failed and as a result, Ethiopia was left with fewer possibilities for generating and sharing the benefits from the use of teff genetic resources. This report provides an in-depth analysis of the course of events with regard to the agreement as well as a related patent on the processing of teff.   (FNI, 2012)   


Consent and conservation: getting the most from community protocols

A wealth of traditional crop varieties, medicinal plants and other genetic resources are under the care of indigenous people and local communities – who need legal rights to manage them. New legal backing comes from the 2010 Nagoya Protocol to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which requires prior informed consent for access to traditional knowledge and genetic resources, and calls for support of ‘community protocols’ that set out rules for access and benefit sharing. Community protocols are not just about indigenous rights: they clarify expectations for business and government, preserve irreplaceable biological resources, and support climate change adaptation and sustainable development. But to get these benefits, governments must back up the Nagoya Protocol with national laws and institutions, and support community-led participatory processes. Community Protocols are a vital way forward for negotiating agreements that are equitable, and conserve their local biodiversity and traditional knowledge.(IIED, 10/2012)


Crop Genetic Resources as a Global Commons – Challenges in International Law and Governance

This book addresses how the collective pooling and management of shared plant genetic resources for food and agriculture can be supported through laws regulating access to genetic resources and the sharing of benefits arising from their use. Since the most important recent development in the field has been the creation of the multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, many of the chapters in this book will focus on the architecture and functioning of that system. The book analyzes tensions that are threatening to undermine the potential of access and benefit-sharing laws to support the collective pooling of plant genetic resources, and identifies opportunities to address those tensions in ways that could increase the scope, utility and sustainability of the global crop commons.


Bridging the gap on intellectual property and genetic resources (WIPO)

David Vivas-Eugui. ICTSD Issue Paper No. 34. January 2012.Discussions on how to address concerns about the misappropriation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge have been high on the agenda of a variety of multilateral forums such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In the past two years, WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) has witnessed an acceleration of its work in particular on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. However, the gap in positions on genetic resources remains significant. Against this background, this issue paper examines at length the range of measures and options discussed in the IGC especially biodiversity disclosure requirements and databases. It also considers the binding or non-binding nature of the instrument(s) that might emerge from the IGC and their different implications. In connection to all these aspects, the paper makes recommendations regarding processes, substance and existing research gaps that could contribute towards advancing the IGC’s deliberations.


Bridging the Gap on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources

D. Vivas-Eugui. International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Issue Paper 34. 2012.Biodiversity-rich countries and traditional knowledge (TK) holders have become concerned about the presumed lack of respect for national access and benefit-sharing (ABS) legislation and the misappropriation of their genetic patrimony and TK by some intellectual property (IP) applicants. More than a decade after its creation, the world Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)’s Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) has an opportunity to contribute towards providing meaningful responses to concerns relating to biodiversity and IP. A binding instrument is the surest way to see biodiversity-related measures in the IP system implemented by user countries taking into consideration that the solutions it provides will have an effect in practice. This paper makes recommendations regarding processes, substance and existing research gaps that could contribute towards advancing the IGC’s deliberations. (ICTSD, 01/2012)


Intellectual property tools for products based on bio-cultural heritage

Graham Dutfield. Nov 2011. Shaping sustainable markets Series, IIED. Small producers and indigenous communities face significant difficulties in acquiring IP rights in important markets. But particular forms of IP -- such as geographical indications and trademarks, which can recognise and support group rights -- may be better suited to use by groups or associations of small producers and may help protect their bio-cultural heritage. This review suggests that achieving appropriate design of intellectual property tools will be a significant challenge for developing countries and producers, requiring strong organisational and institutional structures, equitable participation among producers, strong market partners who can help to promote bio-cultural products over the long term, and effective legal protection. Some developing countries have already been able to benefit from geographical indications and trademarks.


Ethnopharmacology, food production, nutrition and biodiversity conservation: Towards a sustainable future for indigenous peoples

V. H. Heywood; Centre for Plant Diversity & Systematics, School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, UK; 2011This paper aims to provide a perspective of ethnopharmacology that explicitly extends the range of disciplines it covers so as to embrace food and nutrition and biodiversity, both wild and domesticated, and places it in the context of the dramatic changes to our planet during a period of rapid global change and the impacts that these changes are having on human health and nutrition and on its resource base.Ethnopharmacology, biodiversity, agriculture, food and nutrition are inextricably linked but suffer from compartmentalization and a lack of communication which have to be overcome if progress is to be made. Fortunately, a convergence of interest between the agricultural biodiversity and the biodiversity conservation sectors has emerged in recent years and there is an increased appreciation of the need to adopt a wider approach to human nutrition than the conventional agricultural model allows; there is also a greater awareness of the important role played by diversity of crops, especially local species, and consumption of wild species in achieving balanced nutrition. Ethnopharmacologists need to take much more cognizance of the fate of the resource base – the plants, animals and microorganisms – and of the actions being undertaken under the auspices of treaties, such as the Conservation on Biological Diversity and its Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, to counter its degradation and loss.Although it has been suggested that the 'golden days' of ethnopharmacology may be over, it is proposed that by embracing the challenges of broadening the remit so as to include the health aspects of wild biodiversity employed in nutrition, a new 'golden age' beckons. The paper concludes with some suggestions for action.


Rights to plant genetic resources and traditional knowledge: basic issues

Rothschild, M., CABI, 2002 This book contains 16 chapters. Topics covered are: patents, trade secrets and other forms of intellectual property rights; advent of animal patents: innovation and controversy in the engineering and ownership of life; economics of patents; access to data and intellectual property; global intellectual property: international developments in animal patents; public university, intellectual property and agricultural R and D; lessons from the patenting of plants; patenting and sequencing the genome; open source and other software intellectual property models; animals, ethics and patents; development of a genetic marker for litter size in the pig: a case study; development and commercialization of a genetic marker for marbling of beef in cattle: a case study; research and patent perspective of nuclear transfer cloning: case studies; dairy cattle test day models: a case study; development and commercialization of software for genetic improvement programmes: a case study; final thoughts.


Intellectual Property and Human Development - Current Trends and Future Scenarios

Prepared by PIIPA’s global team of IP professionals and partners in human development, this book examines the social impact of intellectual property laws as they relate to health, food security, education, new technologies, preservation of bio-cultural heritage, and contemporary challenges in promoting the arts. It explores how intellectual property frameworks could be better calibrated to meet socioeconomic needs in countries at different stages of development, with local contexts and culture in mind.


Sourcebook offers practical guidance on property rights and collective action for resource management

Published by the CGIAR Program on Collective Action and Property Rights (CAPRi), the sourcebook is based directly on the experiences and lessons of CAPRi research from around the world. It is based on sound underlying research, but the presentation is simple, straightforward, and accessible. The objective of the book is to build capacity of research and development organizations to recognize the importance and relevance of CAPRi concepts and to apply the lessons and methods from CAPRi research to their work with communities, policymakers, and other stakeholders. It is hoped that it will serve not only as a relevant and practical guide for development practitioners, trainers, and policymakers, but will also be used in universities and other institutions of higher learning.


Pirating African heritage: The pillaging continues

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), a non- profit activist organisation based in South Africa, released a report documenting seven new cases of suspected biopiracy involving legally untenable patents/patent applications. Some patents have already been granted and others are still pending in Europe and the USA in respect of African resources ranging from medicinal plants, and marine sponges to human viruses. The patent claimants include European big corporations such as Bayer and Louis Vuitton (Christian Dior), small natural health businesses, and the USA government. In the report, patent numbers and/or application numbers are provided for each of the suspected biopiracy cases, as well as contact information for the entity or entities that have lodged the patent claims. Download PDF.