Towards a Human Rights-Based Approach to Food Security: A Self-Assessment Tool to Achieve Balanced Plant Regimes
The agricultural sector is a crucial source of food, employment and trade, and so it contributes to overall economic growth and poverty reduction. Increasingly, the privatization and spread of commercial seeds is harming agricultural biodiversity in developing countries. In particular, intellectual property rights (IPRs) that give incentives to commercialize agriculture may hinder the exchange and reuse of seeds. Plant variety rights that favour commercial and industrial breeders over traditional farmers can potentially undermine agricultural biodiversity and promote monocultures. In turn, this can harm food security and the livelihoods and human rights of farmers.
In this context, UNDP developed this tool to assess national legal and policy frameworks that underpin the fulfilment of human rights, with particular focus on the right to food, with a view to establishing adequate plant variety laws. The tool can help countries to promote human rights, to establish balanced participatory systems and to learn about rules pertaining to biodiversity, food security and rural livelihoods. It describes the inclusive process by which stakeholders can discuss, assess and ultimately establish plant variety laws. It also provides a review matrix that can help in assessing how well national legislation on protection of and access to plants and plant varieties promotes the right to food.
The target audience includes people involved in governance, poverty reduction, agriculture, trade, environment and biodiversity, policy making, development, civil society and academia. This tool thus can help to ensure that a framework on plant rights will meet the needs of the most vulnerable farmers and of the functions of the various acknowledged seed systems.