Protecting Seed Sovereignty: What is the role of the Ethnobotanist

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 14:30
, Letitia - BotanyDoc LLC

As ethnobotanical researchers we’re often identifying plants, and therefore seeds, with uses unique to a culture or that have been developed over generations to fit a particular environment and use. International treaties have recognized the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their seeds and to agreements upon collection. Many countries also require deposits in government herbaria. Whether one agrees with patenting or not, commercial enterprises could acquire these seeds in the name of research or biodiversity and subsequently create patentable products or plants. As material is transferred from seedbanks or herbaria are the agreements on use considered? Are standardized collection forms a good idea for the Society of Ethnobiology? Do we need a toolkit listing methods to ensure seed sovereignty so the seeds are not compromised after the collection of material? Can we create a database listing our members’ agreements with Indigenous Peoples (if not the agreements themselves) upon collection?