Concepts, Actors and Practices from the Past to the Present
Edited by Stathis Arapostathis and Graham Dutfield
Chapter 13: Intellectual property rights in the plant sciences and development goals in agriculture: An historical perspective
Various debates concerning the roles of intellectual property right (IPRs) in society are currently ongoing. One of these involves the ‘ownership over life’ – the patenting of components of life and its role in innovation and business development (Willison and MacLeod, 2002; Kevles and Berkovitz, 2001; CropLife, 2011). Another debate that has been going on for several decades already relates to the role of IPRs in development policies, notably in health but increasingly also in agriculture (Andreasson, 2006; Tansey and Rajotte, 2008; van Genugten et al., 2011) including the protection of technologies developed by public research (Petit et al., 2001; CGIAR Science Council, 2006; CGIAR Consortium Office, 2012). IPRs such as patents are intended to provide incentives for investment in research and development through the provision of an exclusive right on the commercial use of the invention. They play an important role in technology transfer. It is, however, unclear how such rights promote or obstruct access to and sharing of technologies in non-market situations such as resource- poor farmers’ access to seeds. This chapter analyses the co-evolution of (public and private) plant breeding in Europe, the U.S.A. and in some developing countries since the nineteenth century, with the aim of better understanding current debates relevant to the legal protection of components of plants and on the development aspects of IPRs in public research.
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