Geoff Tansey

Selected papers and book chapters

Note: Please contact me if you would a copy of any of these papers not available on the web and I'll see if I can provide it.

Food a chapter in Intellectual Property and Climate Change Research Handbook, edited by Josh Sarnoff, Edward Elgar, forthcoming

Reworking the global food system in World Disasters Report 2011 -  Focus on Hunger and malnutrition, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva, 2011

Whose power to control? Some reflections on seed systems and food security in a changing world, in 'The Politics of Seed in Africa’s Green Revolution', IDS bulletin, Vol 42 No 4, July 2011 pp 111-120 (please e-mail me for a pdf copy of this paper)

A food system fit for all – fair, sustainable and healthy? in Fair and Square: Ethical Shopping Matters, ed by Ruth Bergan, The Co-operative College, Manchester, 2010

Legal fictions, biological realities – shaping our food future, Environmental Law Review, Vol 9, Issue 3, 2007, pp167-170

Just negotiations? PropEur Newsletter, Vol 2, Spring 2006, p2

Comment: Whose rules, whose needs? Balancing Public and Private Interests in Keith E Maskus and Jerome H Reichman, eds, International Public Goods and Transfer of Technology under a Globalised Intellectual Property Regime, Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp662-668

The Role and Perspectives of “Non-Traditional” Providers of IPR Technical Assistance in final report of workshop Reflection on IPR Technical Assistance for Developing Countries and Transition Economies, Burnham Beeches, 15-17 September 2004

Food, power, intellectual property and traditional knowledge – a food system overview, in UNCTAD, Protecting and Promoting Traditional Knowledge: Systems, National Experiences and International Dimensions, Geneva, 2004

Balancing interests in World Food Day 2004 - Biodiversity for Food Security, Proceedings of symposium on Food Security and Biodiversity in Basel, October 2003, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture,October 2004, pp 26-33

Food and poverty: current global challenges?, with Elizabeth Dowler, in Mosley, P & Dowler, E (eds) Poverty and Social Exclusion in North and South, Routledge, 2004

Global Intellectual Property Rights: A New Factor in Farming in Agriculture and the WTO, World Bank, Washington DC, 2003

Agricultural R&D in Millstone, E & Lang, T (eds) The Atlas of Food: Who eats what, where and why, Earthscan, London, 2003

Patenting Our Food Future: Intellectual Property Rights and the Global Food System, Social Policy and Administration, vol 36, no 6, December 2002, Special Issue: Food, pp 575-592; also published as a book - Elizabeth Dowler and Catherine Jones Fines (eds) The Welfare of Food: rights and responsibilities in a changing world, Blackwell, Oxford, 2003

Technology, power, marginalisation and food insecurity: some issues in intellectual property in Sustainable Agriculture in the New Millennium – The impact of biotechnology on developing countries, Brussels 28-31 May 2002, Conference Proceedings, eds K Plenderleith and P De Meyer, FOE Europe, 2002

Food Security: a food system overview, in The Geneva Documents - Proceedings of the workshops on TRIPS, CBD, and International Undertaking, June 2000, Instituto Agronomico Oltremare, 2002

Food for Thought - Intellectual Property Rights, Food and Biodiversity, Harvard International Review, Spring 2002, vol XXIV, no 1. pp 54-59

Beyond science to society: biotechnology, trade, intellectual property and food security in Science and Technology in the Commonwealth: Paths to Prosperity, Kennington Publications/Commonwealth Secretariat, 1999

Food policy in a changing food system, British Food Journal, Vol 96, No 8, pp 4-12, 1994

Not just an old oil drum!, report on extension information work with a Turkish livestock project, World Animal Review, Vol 80/81, No 3-4, pp 89-91, 1994

From words to action, commentary on the International Conference on Nutrition, Ecology of Food and Nutrition, Vol 32, pp 45-50, 1994

Battle of the bulge, Food Policy, October 1992, pp 388-391

Fighting for control of biotechnology, Food Policy, December 1991, pp 492-494

Safeguarding seeds...


This picture of Nikoli Vavilov looks down at you as you enter the Ethiopian Gene Bank in Addis Ababa. He collected seeds from all over the globe as he developed his theory about the centres of origins of different plants.

Melaku Worede is an Ethiopian plant breeder who ran the gene bank some years ago. He was trained to doctoral level in the US, but back home he recognised that the local famers he worked with had far more knowledge of and more complex selection criteria for plants than he had. He won the Right Livelihood Award for his work in 1989. Read more

A special issue of the IDS Bulletin in July 2011 examined some of the contempory issues facing seeds provision in Africa - if and how small farmers can maintain and develop on-farm biodiversity in the face of an increasingly concentrated corporate seed sectors using legal - patents and plant variety protection - and technological means to control the seed business. a changing world

Climate change looms large this century. So too does a redistribution of economic and political power. Both will put huge pressures on our capacity to cope with major changes in a peaceful way, and without serious conflicts or catastrophes.

One element in being able to do so is to ensure local capacity to maintain, develop and adapt seeds to suit the changing environments - in situ. Another is to ensure the flexibility to share seeds - genetic resources - and knowledge about them between places.

Gene banks - ex situ - are also a means of safeguarding the seeds from the many varieties of plants created through farmers' activities over the years and the wild relatives of cultivated plants.