Horticultural development of bush food plants and rights of Indigenous people as traditional custodians – the Australian Bush Tomato (Solanum centrale) example: a review
Lee, LS 2012, 'Horticultural development of bush food plants and rights of Indigenous people as traditional custodians – the Australian Bush Tomato (Solanum centrale) example: a review', The Rangeland Journal, vol.34, no. 4, pp. 359-373.
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New crops are regularly being introduced into cultivation, typically accompanied by a very small agricultural knowledge base. Often, there is a lack of agronomic research information or production experience upon which to rely, nor plant varieties optimised for an agricultural system. The challenges of a new industry may be compounded by a lack of consumer awareness of the new product and value-chain models need to be developed to suit the product. Frequently the plant species being developed into a new crop is one traditionally used as a food source or for medicinal or other applications by Indigenous people. Thus a complex series of additional factors comes into play – consent of the original custodians, respect and acknowledgement of their traditional knowledge that may be exploited, and totemic, kinship and spiritual associations that may be impacted. Establishing benefit sharing for the hereditary stewards, and protection of traditional collective intellectual property is an important ethical consideration. In the 21st century, the previous unjust exploitation of the traditional knowledge of the original custodians without acknowledgement or benefit sharing, is no longer accepted. However, prevailing strategies to safeguard intellectual property and traditional knowledge associated with native plants, for instance, to ensure that benefit is captured for Indigenous hereditary custodians may be lacking or may contravene Indigenous customary law. Where scientific, cultural, ethical, legal and commercial issues interact at the emergence of a new crop industry, stakeholders from various perspectives will bring critical, sometimes conflicting, impediments to resolve. The challenges that arise in the commercial exploitation of the Australian Bush Tomato, Solanum centrale, and its horticultural development, are reviewed and the approaches to their resolution are discussed.