Research Handbook on the WTO Agriculture Agreement

Research Handbook on the WTO Agriculture Agreement

New and Emerging Issues in International Agricultural Trade Law

Research Handbooks on the WTO series

Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Melaku Geboye Desta

Agriculture has been the unruly horse of the GATT/WTO system for a long time and efforts to halter it are still ongoing. This Research Handbook focuses on aspects of agricultural production and trade policy that are recognized for their importance but are often kept out of the limelight, such as the implication of national and international agricultural production and trade policies on national food security, global climate change, and biotechnology. It provides a summary of the state of the WTO agriculture negotiations as well as the relevant jurisprudence, but also, and uniquely, it focuses on the new and emerging issues of agricultural trade law and policy that are rarely addressed in the existing literature.

Chapter 5: Plant Intellectual Property, Food Security and Human Development: Institutional and Legal Considerations, and the Need for Reform

Graham Dutfield

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, international economics, environment, environmental economics


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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