Chapter 15: Agricultural Biotechnology and Trends in the Intellectual Property Rights Regime: Emerging Challenges for Developing Countries
Sachin Chaturvedi INTRODUCTION In the past few years, recombinant DNA technology, along with other key techniques in biotechnology, has become an important feature of modern agricultural research and development (R&D). These frontier technologies have also assumed importance in developing countries which face stagnation in agricultural productivity, in addition to confronting biotic and abiotic agricultural stresses which affect their crops. In these countries, productivity constraints in agriculture have become much more acute since the late 1980s, when Green Revolution crop varieties reached their maximum yield potential. These constraints are forcing even major agricultural producers, like India, to import basic grains – in 2006 India imported more than three million tonnes of wheat (The Economic Times, 2006). Advancements in biotechnology seem to offer a way out of this impasse by generating opportunities to attain higher productivity while reinstating features that ensure sustainable development in the agricultural sector (Linder, 1999; Chaturvedi, 1997, 1999). Developments in biotechnology are, however, accompanied by a stronger intellectual property rights (IPR) regime. In fact, with the advancements in this technology, the instruments that are being used for its protection have become highly exclusionist in their approach. This may pose severe challenges for developing countries, as advances are largely occurring within the private sector, and these new trends in the IPR regime seem to foreclose the entry of latecomers into the technology race. This foreclosure is occurring despite the fact that, since 1995, a large number of developing countries have agreed to a relatively newer IPR regime, and now...
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