This Reuter article talks about teff, the indigenous staple grain of Ethiopia, undergoing scrutny before it is made available world-wide. The UN is hashing out the details in Bonn (as I type)to figure out how to protect biodiversity. It's all exciting stuff for Ethiopia, but my worry is that does the UN have the power to really protect Ethiopian farmers' when some Western company cleverly modifies the genes of teff and come up with an alternative grain and ditch Ethiopian farmers. Perhaps they don't even have to waste time and money fiddling with genes - all they have to do is just change the name. Several examples are out there, I'm sure, like Chinese tea now famously known as Earl Gray English Tea:
Did you know? Earl Grey is named after Charles, the 2nd Earl Grey, who was given a special blend of tea by a Chinese Mandarin. As this began to run out, the Earl asked Richard Twining to match it for him. From then on the blend became known as "Earl Grey’s" tea.
What does all this entail for food prices in Ethiopia? Is Ethiopia ready to protect teff globally and distribute the benefits equitablly? Are the farmers going to see the benefit of all this big talk? If you know the answers, let me know.
Labels: bio-diversity, food prices, Teff