Open Access: Rethinking Resource Access in the Food System

Monday, March 17, 2014, 3-5pm

Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall

In this panel, we explore the frontiers of “open access regimes” within the food system, using seeds and land as starting points from which to reassess resource ownership and property rights in agriculture. We also consider how open access regimes connect to food sovereignty – the rights of local people to define their own food systems. In recent years, open-source licensing has emerged as a new approach to protect the seed innovations of farmers and plant breeders and provide them with access to diversified germplasm. Like open-source software, open-source seeds would create a protected commons in which materials are freely available and widely exchanged, but are protected from appropriation by monopoly interests. Similarly, land has become the focus of redoubled efforts to facilitate open access to resources for food production – the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil is one prominent example. We ask: what are the ways in which managing access to agricultural resources – whether plant genes or land –can promote the common good, and how might these ways change in different cultural and political contexts?

A panel discussion moderated by David Winickoff, Associate Professor of Bioethics and Society in CNR, and Director of the Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies.

The panel will feature:

Jack Kloppenburg, Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Co-Director of the Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems

Kloppenburg specializes in the social impacts of biotechnology and the global controversy over access to and control over genetic resources. He is interested in applying “open source” principles in the biosciences.

Wendy Wolford, Professor of Development Sociology, Cornell University

Wolford focuses on issues within and between the political economy of development, agrarian studies, social mobilization, land reform, and political ecologies of conservation.