Policy directions in public agricultural research: CGIAR’s public goods mandate and plant genetic resources

Segal, Ruth (2022) Policy directions in public agricultural research: CGIAR’s public goods mandate and plant genetic resources. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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The conservation and use of plant genetic resources (PGR) is subject to a range of international treaties and conventions, but these have not resolved controversies over rights of access to seeds, control over new crop varieties or biodiversity conservation. This thesis examines the role of CGIAR, a publicly-funded body that manages 11 international genebanks, within these debates.

The thesis explores how the role of, and strategy for, public international agricultural research (IAR) has evolved in the light of changes in governance of the global agri-food system (1990 – 2012). The research takes CGIAR as its central case study, using archival research and key informant interviews to examine the relationship between CGIAR’s mandate to provide ‘global public goods’ (GPGs) and its policy decisions on the management of plant genetic resources (PGR) and intellectual property.

It examines how different understandings of GPGs fitted with or challenged dominant discourses about future agri- food systems, and whose interests have been served by CGIAR’s changing understandings of its role.

The research finds that there were multiple and vague understandings of the GPG concept across CGIAR and its donors; and that this ambiguity was critical in CGIAR’s policy choices on PGR management. The evidence shows that CGIAR’s ostensible policy goals on the management and use of PGR remained remarkably stable over time. It explains this stability by demonstrating how ambiguity over the GPG concept enabled particular narratives about how science contributes to development outcomes to remain dominant.

It finds that an over-focus on the global aspect of its GPG mandate undermined opportunities within CGIAR to consider the different publics that IAR should serve, and the range of goods they might need. This framing of CGIAR’s public goods mandate resulted in a policy alignment with dominant, market-based, paradigms of agricultural development, to the neglect of opportunities for the exploration of alternative pathways to development.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: S Agriculture > SB Plant culture
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2022 14:03
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2022 14:03
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/104234

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