International Development and Intellectual Property: The Impact of Seed Exchange and Replacement on Innovation among Small-Scale Farmers in India


Based at the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds, the project combines Prof. Gregory Radick’s theoretical and conceptual study of intellectual property (IP) development within the history of science and technology, and the legal-empirical work of IP and plant variety innovation in India conducted by Dr. Nalini Kochupillai from the Max-Planck Institute of Innovation and Competition. The India-based non-governmental organisation, The Art of Living Foundation is providing assistance with research and dissemination of findings. Dr. Natalie Kopytko’s interviews and analysis will answer the following research questions:

  1. How does the culture of seed exchange/seed saving among Indian farmers affect seed related innovations?
  2. What are the historical and scientific backgrounds of the cultures of ‘seed exchange’ and of the more modern concept of ‘seed replacement’?
  3. What is the relationship between seed exchange and seed replacement?
  4. What is the scientific and historical basis for the Indian government promoting seed replacement at the rate of 33% for self-pollinating crops, 50% for cross-pollinating crops and 100% for hybrids?
  5. How do modern intellectual property rights regimes and associated government policies affect the culture of seed exchange/seed saving?
  6. How do these two opposing cultures of open seed exchange and exclusive seed replacement influence sustainable development of agriculture in India?
  7. What does this case study tell us about the relationship between technological innovation, scientific knowledge and intellectual property both narrowly and broadly construed?

Project website