Beyond access and benefit-sharing: lessons from the emergence and application of the principle of fair and equitable benefit-sharing in agrobiodiversity governance

Elsa Tsioumani

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This chapter assesses the application of the concept of fair and equitable benefit-sharing (Tsioumani 2014; Morgera 2016). First, it briefly explains the emergence of the concept in the context of the evolving principles of governance of agricultural biodiversity. Second, the chapter addresses the Multilateral System (MLS) for access to and fair and equitable benefit-sharing from the use of plant genetic resources (ABS) of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA ), which is arguably the most sophisticated ABS system in international law (Halewood et al. 2013b; Kamau and Winter 2013; Guneratne 2012; Biber-Klemm and Cottier 2006; Chiarolla 2012; Correa 1999; Helfer 2004; Raustiala and Victor 2004; Oberthur et al 2011; Oguamanam 2006; Cabrera Medaglia et al. 2013; Chiarolla et al. 2013; Morgera et al 2014). Third, it explores (lack of) benefit-sharing applications in intellectual property rights (IPR) instruments and related human rights concerns. Concluding remarks on identified complexities, contradictions and weaknesses indicate that, despite promise and good intentions, the concept of fair and equitable benefit-sharing has failed to inject fairness and justice in agricultural research and development, or promote agrobiodiversity conservation, including through ensuring the continued contribution of smallholder farmers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Commons, Plant Breeding and Agricultural Research
Subtitle of host publicationChallenges for Food Security, Agrobiodiversity and Law
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Aug 2017


  • agricultural biodiversity
  • global governance
  • intellectual property rights

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