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CGIAR's Open Access and International Collaboration

Date : 26 March 2010

A global biological commons in genetic resources was implemented in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) through a system of international nurseries with a breeding hub, free sharing of germplasm, collaboration in information collection, the development of human resources, and an international collaborative network. The success of an open-source system such as that implemented by CGIAR depends primarily on key people and leadership. Derek Byerlee and Jesse Dublin share these insights in Crop improvement in the CGIAR as a global success story of open access and international collaboration published in The International Journal of the Commons.

Open-source collaboration includes (i) free distribution and redistribution of the original materials, (ii) free redistribution of materials derived from the originals, (iii) full sharing of information, including pedigrees and grain yield, disease resistance and other information relating to the materials, (iv) nondiscrimination in participation in the networks, and (v) intellectual property rights on final materials that, if used, did not prevent their further use in research.

The history and impacts of the international wheat program are discussed to illustrate the open-source system. It also highlights the challenges of maintaining and evolving such a system over the long-term.

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