March 2017

Foundations of Food Security – Ensuring Support to Small-scale Farmers Managing Agricultural Biodiversity

This paper, discusses the access and benefit-sharing (ABS) agreements established by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the Convention on Biological Diversity, or the Nagoya Protocol. In doing so, Susan H. Bragdon argues that ABS regimes are, and will continue to be, insufficient for generating the benefit necessary to support the innovative activities of small-scale farmers in conserving, managing, and actively developing the majority of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA). After a thorough discussion on why small-scale farmers and PGRFA on-farm and in situ are critical to food and nutrition security and to the resilience and sustainability of agricultural systems, she goes on to maintain that a rights-based approach supported by governments nationally and internationally open broader possibilities of predictable, stable support. She concludes by noting that increased private sector interest in agriculture and food systems is reason for equally vibrant governments acting in the public interest. 

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