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This project, funded by the USAID Bureau of Food Security, aims to identify the potential and emerging impact of the Nagoya Protocol and other international policies on the global exchange and use of genetic resources for food, agriculture, and development. It is motivated by the simultaneous increase in demand for global research collaboration and the rise of institutional constraints over biological materials. Within this context, research programs and their donors can no longer assume that researchers or their collaborators have control over research inputs. It is entirely possible that even a funded research is stopped or must be fundamentally altered due to the inability of scientists to obtain biological materials or data. More broadly, it is likely that institutional constraints on research inputs have a strong and potentially detrimental influence on collaboration structures, selection of research questions and collaborators, research outputs and socio-economic impacts. These impacts are non-trivial for many developing countries. Research on the genetic improvement of food staple crops is estimated to have accounted for between 20 and 50 percent of total yield gains experienced in developing countries between 1960 and 2000, with additional contributions accounted for through increases in production. International collaborations among scientists and the unimpeded movement of germplasm between countries through the international agricultural research system were critical determinants of these gains. Many of these research investments have yielded higher returns than alternative uses of public resources earmarked for development, and led to significant increases in food security and incomes among the poor. The project focus on Feed the Future Innovation Labs, international collaborative research program on food, agriculture, and development, funded by USAID. Project activities include:

1) a case-based approach to assessing risks to access and use of GRFA relevant for regional or national donor investment strategies for development. The project will undertake a multi-case crop-specific approach, based on interviews of key individuals in national agriculture research institutes, universities, government agencies and other stakeholder groups collaborating with Innovation Labs;

2) a global survey of the international agriculture research-for-development community. The survey targets active researchers working in Innovation Labs supporting genetic resource research programs. The project addresses the following key questions:

  • What kinds of barriers or challenges do scientists encounter when attempting to acquire materials? What administrative barriers do scientists experience?
  • What are the perceived burdens associated with the use of MTAs and other exchange instruments? Do researchers have institutional support for exchange instruments, and if so, how do these instruments and their associated burdens influence research decisions?
  • Do regulations result in a change of the types of material/data being exchanged?
  • What kind of contingent resources or benefits are promised/expected as a result of exchange?
  • How do agricultural genetic resources policies affect different sectors of agriculture – animals, plants, microbes and insects?
  • Do GRFA policies affect the likelihood that agricultural research results in commercialization of discoveries? Do they affect research collaborations, processes and outcomes?



USAID Bureau of Food Security