The Right to Food, Farmers' Rights and Intellectual Property Rights: Can Competing Law Be Reconciled?

Rethinking Food Systems: Structural Challenges, New Strategies and the Law, Lea Brilmayer, Priscilla Claeys, Nadia Lombek and Adrienna Wong (eds), Springer 2014, Forthcoming

Posted: 8 Oct 2013

Date Written: October 7, 2013

Abstract

The chapter explores the relationships between three fields of law: intellectual property rights, the right to food and farmers’ rights. While acknowledging that the World Trade Organization’s 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) sets high standards or protection, the chapter nevertheless argues that there are several provisions of the TRIPS Agreement that states should make use of in order to expand their policy space, and thereby better ensure the rights of food producers. The Indian Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act of 2001 provides the most interesting example, but there are also other examples. Farmers’ rights are still an emerging issue within international law, and states are not subject to detailed requirements in order to realize farmers’ rights in the 2001 International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). Other provisions of the ITPGRFA are, however, also instrumental in order to promote farmers’ rights. The right to food was recognized in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but this human right has been much ignored in policies and decision-making. It is only recently that tools have been developed in order to advise states on how to best promote the realization of the right to food, including when states are negotiating trade and investment agreement, most of which have separate chapters on intellectual property protection.

Keywords: Indian Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, patent rights, plant breeders' rights

JEL Classification: K33, Q16, Q18

Suggested Citation

Haugen, Hans Morten, The Right to Food, Farmers' Rights and Intellectual Property Rights: Can Competing Law Be Reconciled? (October 7, 2013). Rethinking Food Systems: Structural Challenges, New Strategies and the Law, Lea Brilmayer, Priscilla Claeys, Nadia Lombek and Adrienna Wong (eds), Springer 2014, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2336971

Hans Morten Haugen (Contact Author)

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