Climate Change and Gene Patents
Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 2-13, 2012
13 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2012 Last revised: 2 Jan 2015
Date Written: November 17, 2012
Climate change is imposing significant stresses upon agriculture at a time when more food is required for an increasing world population. Genetic engineering is mooted as a technological response to these difficulties. The modification of the DNA of major crop groups produces plants which are more resistant to drought, salinity and to pests. The patenting of climate-useful DNA provides an opportunity to protect the investment in the exploitation of this DNA. The international IPR regime based upon the WTO TRIPS Agreement enables the patenting of this DNA across the globe. As a matter of practice, this patenting is confined to a relatively small group of life-sciences companies. This market concentration has important agricultural policy implications, particularly for developing countries. This article analyses these issues, concluding that the impact of patenting upon food security is becoming as significant as the impact of patenting upon access to medicines.
Keywords: patents, DNA, climate change
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