Biotechnology, biopiracy and intellectual property: an analysis

It’s a bit of a lengthy read, but here’s an interesting analysis by Oduor Ong’wen on biotechnology, biopiracy and intellectual property rights and their impact on livelihoods.

Oduor Ong’wen is the Kenya country director for the Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI).

Source: Pambazuka

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FARA week underway in Burkina Faso

The 5th African Agriculture Science Week and General Assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is currently underway at the Ouaga 2000 International Convention Centre in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

The FARA week meeting which runs from 19 to 24 July 2010 brings together over 700 prominent agriculture researchers, policymakers and development experts from around the world along with the President of Burkina Faso and ministers of Agriculture, Science and Foreign Affairs from several African and European countries.

Key issues for discussion include:

  • Increasing and sustaining public and private sector investments in African agriculture in the wake of the global financial crisis;
  • Delivering innovations and building capacity at the local level that will enable farmers to adapt to the challenges posed by globalization and climate change;
  • Assessing the resilience of African agriculture trade to domestic and external shocks that include: protectionism and subsidies, the short and long-term trade-offs between biofuel production and food security, and access to agriculture commodity markets; and
  • Embracing importance of biodiversity to African environmental and agriculture health in addition to social and economic development.

For updates on the happenings, check out this conference blog.

In Pictures: International Day for Biodiversity 2010 in Nairobi

Biodiversity for Development and Poverty Alleviation. That was the theme of this year’s International Day for Biodiversity which is commemorated globally on 22 May. Here in Nairobi, the day was marked at the Nairobi National Museum with a variety of exhibitions by some 15 or so organizations including the National Museums of Kenya, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, the National Environmental Management Authority, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the International Livestock Research Institute, the Makini School Environment Club, and the Global Invasive Species Program.

Global Invasive Species Program
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
International Livestock Research Institute

In addition to the exhibitions, there was a public discussion organized by the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR) held in the Louis Leakey Memorial Auditorium.

Hans Herren, the current president of the Millennium Institute, gave a presentation titled Multifunctionality: The Unexplored Positive Side of Agriculture which was followed by panel contributions and open debate. The highlight of the presentation was the interconnectedness of agriculture, society and the environment in a complex web that calls for a systems-thinking approach towards management and conservation of biodiversity.

At the close of his presentation, he quoted Albert Einstein who said, “You cannot solve the problem with the same kind of thinking that created the problem“. It was also observed that in order to be fully effective, biodiversity conservation efforts must be backed by buy-in and policy support from governments and other policymakers.

Hans Herren giving his presentation

Commemorating International Biodiversity Day

Tomorrow, 22 May 2010, marks the International Day for Biodiversity. The theme this year is Biodiversity for Development and Poverty Alleviation. I’m planning on commemorating the day by attending a moderated agrobiodiversity debate to be held at the National Museums of Kenya. Also looking forward to viewing the exhibitions on agricultural biodiversity that will be set up.

Meanwhile, in this week’s edition of the online newsletter SciDev.Net, the editorial calls for researchers to come up with robust, scientific evidence on the link between biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation in order to be able to successfully convince politicians and other key policymakers that they should put biodiversity conservation at the top of their agenda. This will help ensure that the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by the year 2015 is achieved; so far, the target has not been met globally, the editorial notes.