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Quinoa and the exchange of genetic resources: Improving the regulation systems

Chevarria-Lazo M., Bazile D., Dessauw D., Louafi S., Trommetter M., Hocdé H.. 2015. In : Bazile Didier (ed.), Bertero Hector Daniel (ed.), Nieto Carlos (ed.). State of the art report on quinoa around the world in 2013. Santiago du Chili : FAO, p. 83-105.

As proposed by FAO, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa (IYQ), highlighting the potential role of quinoa's biodiversity in contributing to global food security, given its high nutritional value and tremendous potential to adapt to different agroclimatic conditions. The declaration recognizes the role of the Andean communities in creating this biodiversity and conserving numerous local varieties of quinoa. The cultivation of quinoa on other continents will continue to expand in the coming years, and there will be an increasingly widespread distribution of systems of intellectual property rights (IPR) governing varieties or genes. It is, therefore, essential to recognize the contribution made by the Andean communities, applying measures to guarantee the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of quinoa's genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. This chapter addresses these issues. Four main targets can be identified: recognition of the Andean identity of quinoa's genetic resources and the associated traditional knowledge; conservation of the components of biological diversity and ecosystems; sustainable and effective use of quinoa's genetic resources in order to encourage innovation; fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of these resources and associated traditional knowledge. The existing international frameworks do not address these issues in a satisfactory way. The CBD and the Nagoya Protocol regulate bilateral access and benefit-sharing. However, quinoa's genetic resources are transboundary and for decades they have been disseminated outside the Andean zone. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Treaty) addresses these various objectives but does not cover the many different non-agricultural and non-food uses of quinoa (medicinal applications, cosmetics etc.). It also fails to address adequately (at least so far) the in situ conservation dimension - a critical aspect for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use of quinoa with the Andean populations. Intellectual property rights, even those that are sui generis, including plant variety protection (PVP) certificates, geographical indications and collective trademarks, mainly focus on encouraging innovation. They are temporary (of limited duration and validity) and are not recognized by all countries. IPR mechanisms do not address the conservation of genetic resources and alternative solutions are required. Soft laws instruments such as the FAO's Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) and biocultural landscapes deals with in situ conservation for the protection of agrarian systems that enrich biodiversity. Nevertheless, they are unsuitable for dealing with ex situ biodiversity conservation and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. Although the Open Source Seed Initiative seems to provide an interesting alternative mechanism for the multiple stakeholders involved in different stages of production, selection, diffusion and conservation, it lacks a legal structure which would allow it to protect the exchange of genetic material and prevent misapropriation. However, these systems do not include wild crop relatives. They focus predominantly on varieties of the cultivated species. Consequently, there is no single legal framework capable at this stage of dealing simultaneously and globally with the four areas identified. The gaps in each of these instruments are an incentive for improvement. Solutions still need to be developed to better harmonize the different existing legal frameworks and soft laws mechanisms and/or create new complementary ones. The rapid spread of quinoa at global level provides an opportunity to consider the implications of the current regulatory instruments for genetic resources so that they can be improved a...

Mots-clés : chenopodium quinoa; variation génétique; variété indigène; ressource génétique végétale; droit de l'obtenteur; protection légale; population rurale; droit de propriété intellectuelle; conservation des ressources; innovation; agriculteur; utilisation; zone agroclimatique; région andine; amérique du sud

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