New and Emerging Issues in International Agricultural Trade Law
Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Melaku Geboye Desta
Chapter 5: Plant Intellectual Property, Food Security and Human Development: Institutional and Legal Considerations, and the Need for Reform
Graham Dutﬁeld I. INTRODUCTION Plant variety protection (PVP) is a type of intellectual property right, like patents, copyright and trademarks. As an intellectual property right speciﬁcally for protecting new plant varieties, PVP has important implications for crop improvement. But its signiﬁcance goes far beyond this. PVP relates also to agricultural and food policy, food security, rural development, biodiversity and genetic resource conservation, and human rights. To date, the only PVP system with international recognition is the one deﬁned under the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants whose contracting parties form an association known in the original French as the Union pour la Protection des Obtentions Ve´ge´tales (UPOV). Oﬃcially, UPOV’s mission is ‘to provide and promote an eﬀective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the beneﬁt of society’. UPOV is legally separate from, but has a close relationship with, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which houses the secretariat (the UPOV Oﬃce) in its Geneva headquarters. UPOV started oﬀ as very much a West European club. The Convention was largely conceived and designed by and for European breeding interests in a way that balanced these interests with those of farmers. Agriculture ministries were also involved. In its early years the Convention applied exclusively to European countries. These same European breeding interests continue to be intimately involved in the operations of the Convention and of the...
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