Development Agendas in a Changing World
Edited by Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz and Pedro Roffe
Chapter 10: Sui Generis Systems for Plant Variety Protection and Traditional Knowledge in Asia
Daniel Robinson INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND Intellectual property (IP) protection of plant varieties and biotechnological innovations raises a set of issues that are critical to the sustainable development and economic growth of developing countries. Intellectual property also raises concerns for traditional local groups and farmers’ networks within these countries, relating to their local economies, control over agricultural inputs and debt, farmers’ rights, promotion and protection of their knowledge and innovations. There is evidence that IP rights have played a significant role in the consolidation of global seed and agricultural industries1 and this has implications for, inter alia, public policy agendas, the potential economic and environmental impact of genetically modified (GMO) plants, the protection of traditional knowledge (TK), food security, seed prices, research and development (R&D), and technology transfer. Many policy-makers have also noted that patents and the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) Model Plant Variety Protection (PVP) are more suitable for advanced breeding and biotechnological innovations, rather than the traditional, incremental, small-scale and non-commercial breeding common in developing countries. World Trade Organization (WTO) Members have several options for the protection of plant varieties, derived from Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement. These include allowing patent protection or specific forms of PVP. Plant variety protection laws may include those based on the UPOV model or nationally developed sui generis plant variety protection schemes, as well as agro-biodiversity laws. The legal obligations contained in various international agreements, including TRIPS, the UPOV, the UN Convention on...
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