Intellectual Property Rights on Genetic Resources and the Fight against Poverty

19-12-2011

The developmental impact of intellectual property rights (IPRs) on genetic resources (GR) and associated traditional knowledge (TK) has been intensely discussed internationally for more than a decade. In this respect, plant GR for food and agriculture, GR for health as well as the related rights of indigenous and local communities possess particular importance for poverty reduction. The EU can play an important role in advancing regulatory action in this field that enhances the effectiveness of the fight against poverty, both domestically and at the international level. The 2010 Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity that addresses “biopiracy” related to GR/TK is awaiting ratification and full and effective implementation, which will, inter alia, require capacity building especially for least developed countries. Another important contribution to combating biopiracy would be the establishment of a requirement to disclose in patent applications the source of any GR/TK used, as currently under negotiation in the World Trade Organisation and the World Intellectual Property Organisation. The rights of indigenous and local communities, especially with respect to their TK, deserve particular protection both in the EU and internationally, to be designed in consultation with these communities. IPRs on seeds and medicines should not be allowed to compromise the human rights to food and health. There is a need for advancing research and development on seeds and medicines that are targeted at low-income populations in developing countries.

The developmental impact of intellectual property rights (IPRs) on genetic resources (GR) and associated traditional knowledge (TK) has been intensely discussed internationally for more than a decade. In this respect, plant GR for food and agriculture, GR for health as well as the related rights of indigenous and local communities possess particular importance for poverty reduction. The EU can play an important role in advancing regulatory action in this field that enhances the effectiveness of the fight against poverty, both domestically and at the international level. The 2010 Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity that addresses “biopiracy” related to GR/TK is awaiting ratification and full and effective implementation, which will, inter alia, require capacity building especially for least developed countries. Another important contribution to combating biopiracy would be the establishment of a requirement to disclose in patent applications the source of any GR/TK used, as currently under negotiation in the World Trade Organisation and the World Intellectual Property Organisation. The rights of indigenous and local communities, especially with respect to their TK, deserve particular protection both in the EU and internationally, to be designed in consultation with these communities. IPRs on seeds and medicines should not be allowed to compromise the human rights to food and health. There is a need for advancing research and development on seeds and medicines that are targeted at low-income populations in developing countries.

Parlamendiväline autor

Sebastian OBERTHÜR, Justyna POZAROWSKA and Florian RABITZ (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Institute for European Studies, Belgium) ; Christiane GERSTETTER, Christine LUCHA, Katriona McGLADE and Elizabeth TEDSEN (Ecologic Institute, Germany)