Farmers' rights were negotiated through the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources1 and unanimously adopted by countries in the FAO Conference in order to offer a pragmatic concept by which the issues of access and benefit-sharing could be addressed in a systematic and fair manner.
The concept is intended to form the basis of a formal recognition and reward system to encourage and enhance the continued role of farmers and rural communities in the conservation and use of plant genetic resources. It aims at reconciling the view of the 'technology-rich ' and the 'gene-rich' countries in order to ensure access to PGRs within a fair and equitable system.
Farmers' rights also provide some counterbalance to 'formal' IPRs, which compensate for the latest innovation, without acknowledging that, in many cases, these innovations are only the last step in cumulative inventions carried out over many human generations in different parts of the world.
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