This paper presents the findings of a study on the governance of seed conducted in the framework of a participatory plant breeding (PPB) programme, based on a multi-year inquiry with a panel of ten Syrian households. The study assessed the interactions between governance regimes regulating the rights to access and control genetic resources at international and national level, compared to the actual ability of the respondent women farmers to access and control the seed of varieties they co-developed with the PPB programme. The paper argues that gender equal access to seed can “optimally” contribute to enhancing household food security in small scale farming. The paper also argues that to support a gender-equal access to seed in the respondent households legislation needs to explicitly protect the rights of women farmers to access and share the benefits of genetic material and draw from empirical evidence of the actual access to and control of seed at ground level
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