Edited by Stuart J. Smyth, Peter W.B. Phillips and David Castle
Chapter 32: International regimes on plant intellectual property rights and plant genetic resources: implications for stakeholders
Technological advances in agriculture, especially in agricultural biotechnology with its potential to address food and nutritional security in the context of climate change and volatile commodity prices, have brought renewed global focus on agricultural research and development (R & D) investment, and plant intellectual property rights (IPRs). Since biological diversity and access to plant genetic resources are important not only for the development of new and improved varieties, but also for long-term food security, recent debates on IPR protection in agriculture inevitably focus on these topics as well. We are witnessing a decline in public sector agricultural R & D investment in developed countries (Pardey et al, 2006; Alston et al., 2009). Sufficient evidence exists to suggest that enforcement of plant IPRs, in the form of plant breeders' rights or patents or a combination of both, has attracted private R & D investment into agriculture in developed countries (Perrin et al., 1983; Foster and Perrin, 1991; Fernandez-Cornejo, 2004). But inadequate protection of IPRs in agriculture has been suggested as one of the reasons for the limited participation of the private sector in agricultural R & D in developing countries (Pray, 1992; Kolady et al., 2010). A number of diverse and cross-cutting arguments are focused on the role of IPRs in developing world agriculture. Some critics of IPRs in agriculture argue that IPRs lead to loss of genetic diversity and others are concerned about increased corporate presence in the seed sector.
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