Genetic Resources, Equity and International Law

Genetic Resources, Equity and International Law

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Camena Guneratne

This book examines current developments in international law which regulate the uses of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and the various property regimes which are applied to these resources by these international agreements.

Chapter 7: The international property rights regime

Camena Guneratne

Subjects: development studies, law and development, environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, human rights, intellectual property law, international economic law, trade law, law and development, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights


Chapter 5 dealt with the environmental/conservation regime on PGRFA. The second regime which impacts upon the use of these resources, is the international property rights regime. It is not concerned with the conservation and sustainable use of these resources or with the equitable sharing of their beneficial uses. Rather, its objective is to promote and enforce intellectual property protection globally, including in relation to PGRFA, and its functions have been directed towards this end. Consequently, it is at variance with the former regime, and the international debate on PGRFA has by and large focussed on efforts to resolve the conflicts which arise in the implementation of the two. In this chapter I will provide an introduction to the three agreements which make up this system, and the international institutions which administer them. While these agreements and institutions deal with a broad range of issues, of which PGRFA is only one, it is necessary to understand their history, mandates and functions in order to analyze how they affect the use of these resources. The international property rights regime is intended and structured so as to enforce intellectual property rights (IPRs) globally, and this will necessarily remove PGRFA from the public domain and affect access to and benefit sharing of its uses. This chapter will provide an overview of the three agreements, while their specific provisions in relation to PGRFA will be examined in the following chapter. The need to develop a global regime of intellectual property protection derives from the fact that IPRs are national in application

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