In developed and developing countries all over the world, farmers and indigenous and local communities have traditional knowledge, expertise, skills and practices related to food security and to food and agricultural production and diversity. Since its creation in 1945, FAO has recognized the significant contributions these make to food and agriculture, and the relevance of on-farm/in situ and ex situ conservation of genetic resources for food and agriculture. Over the decades, FAO has included traditional and local knowledge and activities in policies, programmes and projects related to a wide range of issues, including farmers’ rights, poverty alleviation, nutrition and health, and gender equity, among many others. More recently, it has used traditional knowledge to tackle the emerging problems of soaring food prices and climate change.
This paper reviews a range of recent developments agricultural biotechnology, primarily focussing on the issue of how access to some agricultural biotechnologies might benefit poorer farmers. The paper focuses mainly on the plant biotechnology sector with some reference to the animal and microbial biotechnology sectors.