Intellectual Property Rights in Plant Genetic Resources: Farmers' Rights and Food Security of Indigenous and Local Communities
33 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2013
Date Written: 2006
This article examines the international legal framework in which traditional farmers and agricultural biotechnology (agro-biotech) protect their knowledge and plant genetic resources. Traditional farms and agro-biotech both play significant roles in enhancing global food security and biodiversity. Legal measures to protect the knowledge of agro-biotech and traditional farmers were deployed by nations with a head start in the agro-biotech industry. The resulting system of utility patents and the sui generis concept of plant breeders' rights often subordinates the claims of farmers under those of agro-biotech. The author argues the current regime under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) is inadequate to moderate the inequities created by intellectual property in plant genetic resources. Agro-biotech alone cannot ensure global food security and sustainable agriculture, nor can an intellectual property system that undermines local and traditional agriculture. Traditional farming knowledge is indispensable to ensuring that culturally acceptable food is accessible around the globe. A two-pronged approach to inequities in the current intellectual property system is possible. First, developing countries can use national legislation to comprehensively define farmers' rights beyond the ITPGRFA. Second, the governing body of the treaty can prioritize interpreting Article 12.3(d) of the Treaty with regard for the expectations of developing countries.
Keywords: international, law, agriculture, farmer, biotechnology, agricultural, food security, biodiversity, legal, patent, rights, intellectual property, ITPGRFA, Treaty, plant genetic resources, knowledge, development,
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