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Norm conflicts as governance challenges for Seed Commons: Comparing cases from Germany and the Philippines

Tschersich, Julia. Norm conflicts as governance challenges for Seed Commons: Comparing cases from Germany and the Philippines, Earth System Governance, Volume 7, 2021, 100097, ISSN 2589-8116


A Seed Commons approach can help to highlight the common struggle of diverse seed initiatives in the Global North and South in light of the dominant pathway of enclosure and commodification of seeds that threatens food sovereignty and cultivated plant-genetic diversity. In this paper, the Seed Commons framework is applied to show how the conflicting norms and rules of the international regime complex surrounding seeds shape the scope of action for Seed Commons in Germany and the Philippines. The analysis shows that the patent and variety protection regimes have strongly influenced the design of national seed marketing and threaten to outlaw practices of Seed Commons. Despite limited practical impact for Seed Commons initiatives (so far), the norms of the Nagoya Protocol and the Seed Treaty have contributed to exceptions in national seed marketing law that provide an essential scope of action for Seed Commons initiatives in Europe and the Philippines.


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