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Seedling - July 1992

Controversy raised by the Bush administration 's refusal to sign the Convention on Biodiversity at the Earth Summit in Rio filled headlines of daily papers throughout the world. Yet while all eyes were on Rio, the real connection with Washington was absent from the horizon: not the U.S. State Department but the World Bank, house of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The Biodiversity Convention, a small step forward for conservation is a large step backward for Third World control over the valuable international crop germplasm collections run by the CGIAR Centres in the name of the international community. Due to last minute pressure from the U.S. government, the Convention excludes these genebanks from its scope. At the same time, the CG donors, again under pressure from the Americans, are working on a policy to let the Centres patent those collections. GRAIN would like to thank Pat Mooney of RAFI for his contributions to this article.

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TOWARDS AN AGRICULTURE FOR THE FEW

Hannes Lorenzen | 25 July 1992 | Seedling - July 1992

In what was hailed by the press as "the most radical overhaul of the Common Agricultural Policy in its 30-year history", EC ministers agreed last May to drastically reduce prices paid to farmers and install a system of direct compensation for them. The measures were presented as an important contribution to saving Europe 's environment, as they encourage farmers to take land out of production and offer subsidies to those who adopt environmentally-friendly activities. However, a close look at the reform shows that it might do just the opposite, with Europe 's genetic heritage being the first major casualty. Hannes Lorenzen of the European Parliament reports.

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CONSERVATIONISTS OR CORSAIRS?

Jack Kloppenburg and Silvia Rodriguez | 20 July 1992 | Seedling - July 1992

Last September, Costa Rica 's National Institute for Biodiversity (INBio) signed a million dollar with the largest drug company in the world, Merck, giving the multinational exclusive rights to develop new products from one of the world 's richest rainforests. The deal took many outsiders by surprise. To some, it looked like an eminently intelligent way to assert and exert national sovereignty over biological resources. To others, it seemed like a massive sell-out that would never benefit the rural communities of Costa Rica. To air the issues, GRAIN turned to Jack Kloppenburg, an American rural sociologist working at the University of Wisconsin, well-known for his research into what could be called "the commodification of the seed". We asked him to analyse for 'Seedling ' what was at stake with "the commodification of the rainforest". The following article is a piece he prepared for us with the assistance of Silvia Rodriguez, from the School of Environmental Sciences at the National University of Costa Rica.

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