Agroscope, Institute for Plant Production Sciences IPS, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland

Patents, Plant Breeders' Rights and Farmers' Rights

At present, Farmers’ Rights are, in contrast to patents and plant breeders’ rights, not an operational mechanism to protect genetic resources. One of the aims of the ongoing revision of the “International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources” (International Undertaking) of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations is the further realisation of Farmers’ Rights. In the negotiations up to now, one was only able to agree on the fact that the responsibility to realise Farmers’ Rights lies with the national governments, and on the enumeration of potential contents of these rights. Irrespective of whether Farmers’ Rights are realised on the national or international level, many yet unsolved questions arise. For example, the legal form, the content and the potential holders of these rights need to be determined. In case the provisions on Farmers’ Rights of the draft for a revised International Undertaking remain unchanged until the end of the ongoing revision, these questions need to be answered by the national governments when realising these rights on the national level – undoubtedly a most difficult and challenging task.

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