Climate Change and Intellectual Property Rights for New Plant Varieties

47 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2011

See all articles by Tapen Sinha

Tapen Sinha

Chennai Mathematical Institute; Nottingham University Business School; Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) - Division of Actuarial Science, Statistics and Mathematics

Bradly J. Condon

ITAM - School of Law

Date Written: October 15, 2011

Abstract

Debates between developing and developed countries over access to technology to mitigate or adapt to climate change tend to overlook the importance of biotechnology. There has been little comparative analysis of competing IPR regimes for biotechnology. Moreover, the role that compulsory licensing might play in international biotechnology transfer has not been explored in depth.

This article focuses on the role of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in the international transfer of new plant varieties. Climate change will increase the importance of the development of new plant varieties (primarily genetically modified ones) that can adapt to changing (and more extreme) climactic conditions. We begin our analysis by examining the science and impact of climate change. We then provide an overview of the debates regarding IPRs and international technology transfer. We argue that the impact of IPRs on international technology transfer varies from one area of technology to the next. IPRs represent a more significant obstacle to international biotechnology transfer than they do in other technologies.

Subsistence farming increases developing countries’ vulnerability to climate change and their need to access the biotechnology on favorable terms. In this regard, the issues that arise with respect to biotechnology are closer to those regarding pharmaceuticals than to those regarding clean energy technology. We therefore compare the economics of IPRs for biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. We then provide a comparative analysis of IPRs for biotechnology in the WTO TRIPS Agreement, the UPOV Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity. This analysis sheds light on the policy options available to developing countries under the current international legal regime.

Keywords: IPR, UPOV; WTO, plant varieties, climate change, CBD

JEL Classification: N5, O13

Suggested Citation

Sinha, Tapen and Condon, Bradly J., Climate Change and Intellectual Property Rights for New Plant Varieties (October 15, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1944593 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1944593

Tapen Sinha (Contact Author)

Chennai Mathematical Institute ( email )

SIPCOT
Chennai, 600017
India

Nottingham University Business School ( email )

Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) - Division of Actuarial Science, Statistics and Mathematics ( email )

Rio Hondo #1 Col. Tizapan San Angel
C.P. 01000 Del. Alvaro Obregon
52 55 5628 4088 (Phone)
52 55 5628 4086 (Fax)

Bradly J. Condon

ITAM - School of Law ( email )

Rio Hondo No. 1
Col. Tizapan-San Angel, 01000
Mexico
52 55 56 28 40 00 x3789 (Phone)
52 55 56 28 40 49 (Fax)

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