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

February 2015

QUNO Geneva is accepting applications for Programme Assistant in Food & Sustainability and Climate Change

Our Geneva office is now hiring a Programme Assistant for September 2015 to August 2016. This is an opportunity for a person in sympathy with Quaker approaches and with an interest in international affairs and in international organizations. You would experience a range of international work, while working primarily as an assistant to QUNO’s Representative for Food & Sustainability in her work relating to agricultural trade, intellectual property of plants and innovation by small-scale farmers. The work also includes a support role to QUNO’s Bonn-based Representative for Climate Change, maintaining strong linkages between QUNO’s work in Geneva and in Bonn, contributing to programme outreach and acting as a Geneva-based presence in meetings.

For more information, visit our PA page and download the complete job description and application form below. The deadline for applications is 30 March. 

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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. 

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Related Areas of Work