Freeing Trade at the Expense of Local Crop Markets?: A Look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership's New Plant-Related Intellectual Property Rights from a Human Rights Perspective

8 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2015

See all articles by Hannah Brennan

Hannah Brennan

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

Burcu Kilic

Public Citizen

Date Written: April 1, 2015

Abstract

On October 16, 2014, a new draft of the intellectual property chapter of the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) was leaked. The intellectual property chapter released in October contains a plant-related intellectual property provision proposed by the United States and Japan that could pose a serious threat to food security within the lower-income parties to the TPP. Intellectual property rights (IPRs) on plants endow plant breeders and seed manufacturers with varying degrees of control over the propagating materials (seeds, tissue cultures, cuttings) and sometimes harvested materials (fruits, foliage, flowers) of any new plant variety they create. The newly released chapter reveals that the TPP will require signatories to make patents on plants or plant-related inventions available as well as accede to the 1991 version of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (1991 UPOV). Currently, most nations, including the majority of parties negotiating the TPP, set their own plant protection policies without interference from international authorities. Most nations have not acceded to the 1991 UPOV, and only a handful offer patents on plants or plant-related inventions. If implemented, the new provisions of the TPP would force many of the negotiating parties — in particular, the less wealthy states — to dramatically alter their domestic laws. This short piece examines the TPP’s new plant-related language and its implications for the human right to food within TPP signatory nations.

Keywords: plant patents, right to food, Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, TPP, human rights law, seed industry, farming, traditional farming practicies

Suggested Citation

Brennan, Hannah and Kilic, Burcu, Freeing Trade at the Expense of Local Crop Markets?: A Look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership's New Plant-Related Intellectual Property Rights from a Human Rights Perspective (April 1, 2015). Harvard Human Rights Journal, Online, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2690884

Hannah Brennan (Contact Author)

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro ( email )

55 Cambridge Pkwy
Number 301
Boston, MA 02141
United States
6175108667 (Phone)

Burcu Kilic

Public Citizen ( email )

1600 20th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
United States

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