Development Agendas in a Changing World
Edited by Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz and Pedro Roffe
Chapter 9: Genetic Use Restriction Technologies and Sustainable Development in Eastern and Southern Africa
Patricia Kameri-Mbote and James Otieno-Odek INTRODUCTION Many eastern and southern African (ESA) countries have had to revisit their intellectual property rights regimes in response to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This has coincided with the development of new technologies that necessitate changes in domestic laws for the protection of new inventions. The dearth of human and resource capacity in both intellectual property (IP) and emerging technologies has constrained the ability of these countries to consider and respond to the growing needs of their national development agendas. The ESA countries have therefore engaged in legislative changes at the domestic level purely as a legal requirement without analysing the impacts of the changes on the countries and the region as a whole. The protection of genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs) through intellectual property rights (IPRs) could, for example, have a significant impact on access to technology by farmers in the region. This has not, however, been explicitly addressed in the IP legislation. The ambivalence of this legislation to GURTs can, in some instances, be misinterpreted as support for IPRs’ protection of GURTS. This chapter looks at the interface between GURTs and IPRs on sustainable use of agro-biodiversity and food security. The research stems from a particular concern that IPRs will have a negative impact on agriculture, which is the largest source of employment and also a significant contributor to the economies of ESA countries. This chapter examines the role of IPRs...
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