Areas of Work

Intellectual Property and Agriculture

Photo Credit: Martin Kunz

This work involves international processes that govern control of, and access to, seeds. Our work seeks to promote informed and balanced discussion about what – if any – kind of intellectual property protection on seeds would best foster resilient, equitable and sustainable food systems and innovation policies. This is in light of the need to ensure long-term food security, protect fragile livelihoods and provide incentives to maintaining biological and genetic diversity.

Ongoing Activities

  • Convening discussions about intellectual property and food.
  • Commissioning research about different approaches to intellectual property protection of seeds and genetic resources, and impacts of these.
  • Promoting awareness of farmers’ and other stakeholders’ experience and interests in relation to intellectual property discussions that affect agriculture.
  • Improving understanding about the range of policy options available.
  • Undertaking human rights-based impact assessments of intellectual property protection for seeds.


Recent Timeline Events

June 2015

QUNO presents at WIPO seminar on Intellectual Property Rights, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions

The issue of genetic resources or traditional knowledge that are shared among different countries was discussed at a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) seminar last week. The seminar took place from 23-25 June at WIPO headquarters in Geneva. Susan Bragdon, QUNO's Food and Sustainability Representative, was asked to talk about other international legal instruments that relate to genetic resources and intellectual property, in particular to discuss the story behind the treaties; how they came to be, what they say and the challenges presented by the regime complex.

The panel was webcast live and can be viewed at the below URL. Susan’s talk can by selecting the afternoon session of 24 June. She is the first speaker after the moderator’s introduction. 

Related Links

Related Areas of Work

February 2014

QUNO held side-event panel discussion: Small-scale farmers, innovation and the competition of international regimes?

Small-scale farmer innovation plays an essential role in food security. During this panel discussion, speakers and participants considered how to design a coherent legal regime that supports all types of innovation and management systems, including those of small-scale farmers. Speakers included: Susan Bragdon, QUNO; Shakeel Bhatti, International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture; Isabel Lopez Noriega, Bioversity International; and Antony Taubman, World Trade Organization. The event was moderated by QUNO's Caroline Dommen.

The session built on QUNO’s 2013 Briefing Note, "Small-scale farmers - The missing element in the WIPO-IGC Draft Articles on Genetic Resources" and is part of ongoing QUNO work on intellectual property, genetic resources and food. 

Related Links

Related Areas of Work