Francois Meienberg works to promote plant breeding for the benefit of society, fully implementing farmers’ rights to plant genetic resources and promoting biodiversity through The Association for Plant Breeding for the Benefit of Society (APBREBES), which he leads. The Association works to represent the interests of farmers and indigenous people and their innovative plant breeding activities. It pays detailed attention to the activities of the organisation that creates a form of intellectual property right over plant varieties, the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), and which is dominated by commercial plant breeders.
APBREBES was founded in 2009 by seven civil society organisations from developing and industrialised countries. It focuses on the recognition and consideration of the human rights dimension and particularly farmers’ rights, as well as the sustainable management of agricultural biodiversity, in the decisions and activities related to plant variety protection. Its activities include exchanging information and critical analysis of current regulatory frameworks for plant breeding and their various implications, as well as the facilitation of farmer and citizen involvement in local, national, regional and international decision-making processes and debates that affect the development of plant breeding. APBREBES is the only global network of civil society organisations that has observer status to UPOV bodies.
As Francois says in our conversation there are a complex set of international agreements affecting plant genetic resources today. If you would like to get a broader background on these then please check out the video ‘Seeds of contention, control or diversity? Global rules, intellectual property and the future control of food‘ on the Food Systems Academy website. For a more detailed overview you can also download the book The Future Control of Food – A Guide to International Negotiations and Rules on Intellectual Property, Biodiversity and Food Security through my website.