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Heirloom value as relevant policy belief for agro-biodiversity initiatives

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The dominant state-driven transition in agricultural modernisation promotes the replacement of old knowledge/varieties for modern ones as they do not fit with productive and efficient industrial agriculture. They are dubbed as "backwarded". Stringent legal frameworks (IP rights & safety regulations) and political (dis)incentives are geared to replace open local landraces by modern patent-restricted varieties. And yet, there are alternative transition pathways where citizens reclaim a different and more sustainable, open-source agriculture, meaningful landscapes and communal practices that reinforce connectedness, social and economic benefits, and pleasure in doing things with others. And heirloom seeds fit well in that narrative. Studying in detail the motivations and food and seed values of participants in four case studies or agro-biodiversity conservation (UK, Belgium, Slovenia and Germany), this research shows that non-economic motivations related to "old" are still quite relevant (heritage, tradition, ancestors, heirloom, etc). There are diverse pathways to preserve agro-biodiversity by combining economic and Non-economic policy beliefs. And different non-economic Policy Beliefs are meaningful in different contexts for the same resource.

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Heirloom value as relevant policy belief for agro-biodiversity initiatives

  1. 1. Heirloom value as relevant policy belief for agro-biodiversity initiatives Jose Luis Vivero Pol, UCL
  2. 2. Dominant state-driven transition to get rid of old knowledge/varieties (backwardness) as they didn´t fit with modernization of agriculture. Stringent legal frameworks (IP rights & safety regulations) + political (dis)incentives replaced open local landraces by modern patent- restricted varieties. Alternative transition: citizens/state-driven to reclaim the commons, sustainable agriculture, meaningful landscapes & communal practices that reinforce connectedness, social & economic benefits & pleasure in doing things with others. Agro-biodiversity Transitions
  3. 3. Commonalities: successful pathbreakers (going beyond expectations), re-value old varieties (seeds + knowledge + techniques + landscape), strong quest for heirloom, community-spirit. Agro-biodiversity is disappearing in Europe Drivers • LEGAL: stringent seed laws, patent rights, food safety regulations • POLITICAL: former CAP goals (uprooting old olive trees & grapes) • SOCIO-TECHNICAL TRANSITIONS (GMOs, homogenization of industrial agriculture) • CONSTRUCTED CONSUMER PREFERENCES (advertising, prices) 1. WALLOON FRUIT NETWORK (BEL): collective action to preserve old fruit varieties through in-situ orchards 2. DRESCHFLEGEL INITIATIVE (GER): preservation through valorisation of old crop varieties 3. KOZJANSKO APPLE INITIATIVE (SLO): preservation/valorisation of ancient orchards in National Park 4. HAY TIME PROJECT (UK): landscape restoration with local seeds in National Park Differences: economic/non-economic orientation at initial stage, monetised & non- monetised incentives, state-led/collective actions, development stage, different evolution of policy beliefs (PB), current co-existence of important economic/non-economic PB
  4. 4. 1.- Different non-economic PB for the same resource are meaningful: UK: landscape aesthetics + place attachment SLO: connectedness + local pride BEL: curiosity/learning + future generations GER: beauty + pleasure in doing things with others 2.- There are diverse pathways to preserve agro-biodiversity by combining ECO/Non-ECO PB Even using PB that are NOT driven by biodiversity itself (i.e. cultural heritage, place attachment, local pride, conviviality).
  5. 5. 3.- Non-ECO PB associated to OLDNESS (heritage, heirloom) are consistently relevant (seeds, landscapes, knowledge) 4.- Non-ECO PB (optional value, cultural value, intrinsic value, heirloom value) equally important than ECO PB 5.- Non-ECO PB on agro-biodiversity are powerful drivers although not effective alone, particularly when local livelihoods are dependent from natural resources. 6.- Different members of same initiative hold different PB. Both can co-exist if profit maximization is not hegemonic. 7.- Differentiated policies for different development stages: If non-ECO PB prevail at initial stages, ECO PB arise as long as initiative evolves/scales up/enlarges/gets more complex. And VICEVERSA, ending normally with a COMPLEX MIX OF BOTH.

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