International Flows of Rice Germplasm Implications for Compensation

To arrive at specific estimates of compensation for genetic flows in rice, a matrix of germplasm exchange was calculated based on flows of landraces and other ultimate progenitors. This matrix reflects the full genealogies of the 1709 varieties in the database described above. Each variety can be traced to a set of ultimate progenitors. In most cases, these are landraces or pureline selections from landraces. Some are mutants. A few are of unknown type, or simply are not described in the available data. Most of the progenitors are identified by national origin - specifically, by the country from which they were collected.

For this analysis, each elite variety was traced to each of its distinct progenitors. (Duplicate progenitors were omitted; for example, if the landrace Cina occurred multiple times in a genealogy, it was considered only once.) The country of each progenitor was then identified. Each time that a progenitor from country i occurs as an ancestor of an elite variety in country j, it was considered to represent a flow of germplasm from i to j. In the germplasm flow matrix, then, the rows and columns reflect these flows. An element of the matrix, a^ , thus represents the sum across all elite varieties in country j of the flows from country i.

Table 17.2 summarizes the results, some of which are startling. Several points deserve note. First, the extent of borrowing of genetic materials is enormous. Of the countries in this summary table, none approaches genetic self sufficiency; most are enormously dependent on foreign sources of germplasm. For Bangladesh, as an example, the 34 modern varieties in the data traced to 233 total ancestors (not all distinct), of which only four were identified as originating in Bangladesh, fewer than 2% of the total. Almost all the countries in the data show similarly low levels of genetic self-sufficiency in rice; only India

Table 17.2. Summary of international flows of landrace ancestors, selected countries.

Total landrace progenitors in all Own Country released varieties landraces

Bangladesh

233

4

Brazil

460

80

Burma

442

31

China

888

157

India

3917

1559

Indonesia

463

43

Nepal

142

2

Nigeria

195

15

Pakistan

195

0

The Philippines

518

34

Sri Lanka

386

64

Taiwan

20

3

Thailand

154

27

United States

325

219

Vietnam

517

20

Net lending Own landraces (borrowing), as

Borrowed landraces

used in other countries

share of total landraces

229

10

(0.940)

380

43

(0.733)

411

9

(0.910)

731

2052

1.488

2358

1749

(0.155)

420

420

0.000

140

0

(0.986)

180

0

(0.923)

195

10

(0.949)

484

299

(0.357)

322

57

(0.687)

17

669

32.600

127

220

0.604

106

2420

7.120

497

89

(0.789)

Notes: In the last column, all numbers are given as shares of landraces used in domestic varieties; figures in parentheses are negative numbers. Numbers may exceed 1 if a country is a large net lender of landraces. Positive numbers indicate that a country is a net lender; negative numbers indicate that a country is a net borrower.

(39.8%) and the US (67.4%) provided more than 20% of their own landrace ancestors.

A second point to note is that most of the countries in the data are net borrowers of landraces; their modern varieties incorporate landraces from other countries more often than their landraces appear as ancestors to modern varieties in other countries. A few countries emerge as large net exporters of lan-draces: Taiwan, the US, China and Thailand. On the other side are large importers of germplasm: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Nigeria and Vietnam. Indonesia emerges as exactly even; India is a small net importer.

Although it is difficult to extrapolate from these data to any ultimate system of compensation for farmers' rights, the results are provocative. The net importers of germplasm could well emerge as losers under the kind of compensation scheme now being considered. This includes a number of countries from the South which are often thought to be rich in genetic resources, such as Brazil and Burma. The net exporters of landraces might well be winners, including Taiwan and the US, neither of which is often thought to be a rich repository of PGRs for agriculture.

How can countries such as the US be sources of landrace materials in rice, which is after all a tropical crop? By some definitions, obviously, it would not be possible to regard the US as a source of native genetic materials in rice.10 But rice cultivation in the US can be traced back at least 200 years. Farmers in the

US have indeed selected varieties that perform well under intensive growing conditions, and it is hard to imagine a system of farmers' rights that would not extend to these varieties equally as to varieties developed by indigenous people in the Philippines.

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