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Biodiversity and food – the WTO TRIPS negotiations

Joseph A McMahon

Keywords: TRIPS; CBD; geographical indications; Doha Development Agenda negotiations

This article examines the review of Article 27.3(b) of the WTO's TRIPS Agreement which deals with the patenting of plants and animals and the protection of plant varieties. The review began in 1998 and was expanded by the 2001 Doha Declaration into negotiations on the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity and two issues in the area of Geographical Indications; the multilateral register for wines and spirits and the extension of the treatment offered to wines and spirits to other products. These negotiations have given rise to differences between the Members on a North-South basis on the nature of the TRIPS-CBD relationship and on an old World-New World basis on the Geographical Indications. The negotiations have also raised important issues relating to biodiversity and food and it is to be regretted that after twelve years the negotiations have yet to yield a positive outcome.

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