Intellectual property, or IP, is a term used to refer to the rights and protections of ownership granted to creations of the mind. It typically refers to creative works, inventions, designs, or symbols and logos. But what happens when the rules of IP are applied to the “invention” of plant varieties? In this episode, Dr. Susannah Chapman discusses the history, methods, and range of issues associated with the process of applying ownership rights and regulations to plants.
Dr. Susannah Chapman is an environmental and legal anthropologist whose work explores the relationship between law, culture, and food. She uses both historical and ethnographic methods to trace the rise of new techniques for governing crop germplasm, including intellectual property law. Her work explores concepts such as innovation, ownership, labor, and value that emerge alongside attempts to care for and control plant materials. Her research has examined the history of agrobiodiversity and the law in the United States, the transformation of farmer seed selection and state seed governance in twentieth century Gambia, and the shifting parameters of plant variety protection in contemporary Australia.