Seed Activism: Patent Politics and Litigation in the Global South


Over the past decade, legal challenges have arisen in the Global South over patents on genetically modified crops. In this book talk, Karine Peschard will present her recent book entitled Seed Activism: Patent Politics and Litigation in the Global South (MIT Press, 2022), now also available in Chinese (simplified) from China Science and Technology Press Co.


In this legal ethnography, Peschard examines the strengthening of IP regimes for plant varieties, the consolidation of the global biotech industry, the erosion of agrobiodiversity, and farmers' dispossession. She shows how litigants question the legality of patents and private IP systems implemented by Monsanto for royalties on three genetically modified crop varieties, Roundup Ready soybean in Brazil, and Bt cotton and Bt eggplant in India. Peschard argues that these private IP systems have rendered moot domestic legislation on plant variety protection and farmers' rights. This unprecedented level of corporate concentration in such a vital sector raises concerns over the erosion of agricultural biodiversity, farmers' rights and livelihoods, food security, and, ultimately, the merits of extending IP rights to higher life forms such as plants.


Speaker's Short Intro.

Karine Peschard is an anthropologist and Associate Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Her expertise and publications relate to intellectual property regimes in agriculture, agrobiodiversity, legal activism and the rights of peasants, in particular the right to seeds. She also works as a consultant for a number of civil society and United Nations organizations, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Association for Plant Breeding for the Benefit of Society (APBREBES), Swissaid and the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN). She is the author of Seed Activism: Patent Politics and Litigation in the Global South (MIT Press 2022).