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 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

February 2014

Susan Bragdon joins QUNO Geneva as Representative for Food and Sustainability

Susan Bragdon joined QUNO Geneva on 1 February as Representative, Food and Sustainability to lead our work on intellectual property of plants and on a new framework for trade and investment in agriculture. Susan, trained as a resource ecologist and patent lawyer, brings in depth experience of UN agencies and other international organisations and negotiations, especially on intellectual property of plants and biodiversity. Susan, presently based in Portland, Oregon, will work initially as a consultant before relocating to Geneva later this year.

Related Areas of Work