The Future Control of Food: A Guide to International Negotiations and Rules on Intellectual Property, Biodiversity, and Food Security

By Geoff Tansey; Tasmin Rajotte | Go to book overview

Glossary

Different sources give a variety of definitions for many of the terms given below. Some terms are
specifically defined in the language of the agreements discussed in this book, such as in the
CBD and the ITPGRFA, while other agreements, such as TRIPS, offer no definition of
terms. Deciding what terms mean or whether to define them at all is itself part of the negotiat 
ing process. In many of the negotiations described in this book there was considerable debate
over definitions, and the need to compromise influenced the often ambiguous wording of defini 
tions such as 'plant genetic resources for food and agriculture' in the ITPGRFA (Bragdon,
2004). Not defining terms in an agreement offers greater flexibility – and uncertainty – in
implementing it, as the terms may be defined differently in different jurisdictions. Definitions
and their interpretation can be very important in determining whether intellectual property
(IP) protection can apply or not.

Agricultural biodiversity or agrobiodiversity: 'the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture (crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries). It comprises the diversity of genetic resources (varieties, breeds, etc) and species used for food, fuel, fodder, fibre and pharmaceuticals'.a It also includes the diversity of non-harvested species that support production (for example soil microorganisms, predators and pollinators) and those in the wider environment that support agro-ecosystems (agricultural, pastoral, forest and aquatic), as well as the diversity of the agro-ecosystems themselves.

Another definition is that agricultural biodiversity encompasses the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms which are necessary to sustain key functions of the agroecosystem, its structure and processes for, and in support of, food production and food security.b

Biological diversity or biodiversity: 'the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems' (CBD, Article 2). Diversity within and between species and ecosystems permits them 'to adapt to new pests and diseases and changes in the environment, climate and agricultural methods'.c

Biological resources: 'genetic resources, organisms or parts thereof, populations, or any other biotic component of ecosystems with actual or potential use or value for humanity' (CBD, Article 2).

Biopiracy: see Chapter 7, pp146–149).

Biotechnology: biotechnology has been defined by many, in particular by the major proponents of modern biotechnology, as a process encompassing any technique that harnesses and uses living organisms, living or dead cells, and cell components to undertake processes for specific applications.d With this broad definition, biotechnology can technically go back 10,000 years or earlier, to the origins of the domestication processes of plants and animals, and include things such as the selective breeding of crops and animals and the fermentation process involved in the production of bread. The CBD also adopted a broad definition: 'any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use' (Article 2). In this book,

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