Daniel HARPER, 28 years old – USA: building a Geographical Indications in Israel

“Too often internships involve little more than making copies, fetching coffee and busy work. My classmates and I had higher aspirations for the “Stage de fin d’études”. Having spent the past year and a half learning all there is to know about Geographical Indications, I was eager to get out there and put this newly acquired knowledge into practice. But I was also skeptical. How well would employers in France receive such a new and small Master’s program? And what about outside of France, and – god forbid- outside the EU? The answer, I learned, is very well.

Last year, on February 1st, I began day one of my two-part internship at the “Mechon Volcani-” the agricultural research center of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture. Why Israel, you might be thinking? Well, as it turns out, this country has long had its eyes on GIs. They joined France in 1966 as original signatories of the Lisbon Arrangement, thereby adopting the legal recognition and protocol for Appellations of Origin, since which point they have only registered one product: the Jaffa Orange. They are now looking to change this both at the local and governmental level, and their nascent wine sector is to be the pioneer. The township or “regional council” of Mateh Yehuda plans to register its viticultural areas as GIs with the hope of increasing agro-tourism, but first it needs the support and cooperation of its vintners. One of my tasks is to help inform the wine-makers of the benefits of GI registration. In addition to this, I am evaluating the possibility of obtaining future Appellations of Origin for certain wine growing sub-regions a within Mateh Yehuda.

Israel is just one of the many countries outside of the EU whose governments and farmers are seeking to develop their own system of Geographical Indications. Such a task requires a thorough understanding of GIs and the acceptance of the key concepts behind them, like the collective aspect for example. We have this understanding. The EU is the beacon of GI success, and who better than the students and graduates to share and explain this system to Third Countries? It is true that MFI is a young program with a small community of alumni, but we possess a niche set of knowledge that is highly valued by communities and countries that look to Europe as a model for Geographical Indication development. The extent of this value is evinced by the wonderful diversity of internships obtained by Promo 7 and previous classes.

Basic economic principles show us that when demand is high and supply is low, there is opportunity for success and development. This is the case in the world of Geographical Indications. This is one of the reasons why I hope and believe that the Master Food Identity will continue to grow and prosper. But until then, I invite you to view our size as our strength: as long as there is demand for our specialized knowledge, it’s safe to say our “Maîtres de Stage” will want more from us than coffee and copies.“