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Intellectual Property, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development: Resolving the Difficult Issues
Author: Martin Khor
Publisher: Zed Books, Third World Network
Year Published: 2002
No of Pages: 104
ISBN: 983-9747-78-9 (TWN)
Price: $15.00 (price is inclusive of postage cost by air mail)

The impact of intellectual property rights on the rights of local communities, consumers and the environment has become a major source of controversy. This is especially so after the TRIPS agreement in the WTO facilitated the worldwide patenting of life forms and biological materials, which has given rise to public concerns over the environment, food security, farmers' livelihoods and the rights of indigenous peoples over their knowledge and resources.

At the heart of the debate is the increasing misappropriation of traditional knowledge by corporations that are now patenting human genes, plants and other biological materials, many of which exist in nature or have been used for generations by farmers and indigenous peoples. In this book, Martin Khor examines the 'biopiracy' phenomenon, its links to the TRIPS agreement, and the effects on biodiversity, community rights, sustainable development and technology transfer. In particular, he deals with these questions:

* What are the implications of TRIPS for respecting traditional knowledge and the rights of local communities?
* What tensions exist between the approaches and provisions of TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity?
* Should life forms be granted the status of intellectual property, and to what extent has TRIPS made patentability of biological materials mandatory?
* Will TRIPS endanger the transfer of technologies required by developing countries for their sustainable development?
* What are the options for resolving these problems and what is the way forward for each issue?

This book provides a useful summary and analysis of the key aspects in this complex and controversial subject, and just as importantly, it describes the processes and debates now taking place in the WTO and other fora, and gives suggestions on how to move ahead on the variuos issues.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martin Khor is the Director of Third World Network, a network of several NGOs in different parts of the developing world. An economist trained at Cambridge University who has lectured in economics at the Science University of Malaysia, he is author of several books and articles on trade, development and environment issues.

He is also the Honorary Secretary of the Consumers' Association of Penang in Malaysia and a board member of the International Forum on Globalization. He was formerly a Vice Chairman of the UN Commission on Human Rights Expert Group on the Right to Development and a consultant in several research studies under the UN.

CONTENTS

Chapter 1
Background to the international debate

Chapter 2
TRIPS, IPRs and Traditional Knowledge
1. Traditional knowledge and the link to community rights
2. The value of and the threats to traditional knowledge
a. Value of traditional knowledge
b. Threats to traditional knowledge
3. Misappropriation of Traditional Biodiversity Knowledge, or the 'Biopiracy' Phenomenon
a. General
b. The general situation on patenting of living organisms
c. Patenting in agriculture
d. Patenting on medicines
4. Some Views of Indigenous Peoples
5. Options and Attempts to Redress the Situation
a. Introduction
b. Banning the patenting of living organisms
c. Restricting plant breeders' rights
d. Mitigating measures: An appropriate interpretation of TRIPS and sui generis systems
e. Prior informed consent from countries of origin
f. Digital database on traditional knowledge
g. Community registers for traditional knowledge
h. Patenting of traditional knowledge by local innovators?
i. Incorporating traditional knowledge into TRIPS?
j. Community intellectual rights act/policy
k. National legislation on biodiversity access and benefit-sharing
l. OAU model law and convention on community rights and access to biological resources
m. Non-IPRs systems of reward, incentive and benefit-sharing
n. National programmes promoting traditional knowledge

Chapter 3
The Relationship Between TRIPS and The CBD
1. Introduction
2. Inherent Tensions in the IPRs Provisions of the CBD
3. Other Tensions between TRIPS and the CBD
a. Differences in rationale, origins and overall framework
b. National sovereignty versus rights of foreign IPRs holders
c. Conflict between private rights of IPRs holders and community rights of traditional knowledge holders
d. Differing treatment of innovators using modern technology and traditional knowledge
e. System of prior informed consent of states and communities (under CBD) versus unilateral patent actions by private companies and researchers (under TRIPS)
f. Differences in benefit-sharing arrangements
g. Treatment of the environment
4. Options to Redress the Situation
a. Maintaining the status quo
b. Encouraging countries to use their options under TRIPS and the CBD in favour of sustainable development
c. Reforms to TRIPS and the CBD to make them consistent with sustainable-development objectives

Chapter 4
TRIPS and Article 27.3(b)
1. Introduction
2. Patentability of living organisms and processes: Distinctions between plants, animals and micro-organisms; and between biological and microbiological processes
3. Protection of plant varieties
4. Conclusions and suggestions

Chapter 5
IPRs, TRIPS and technology transfer
1. Technology transfer in the 'Environment and Development' process
2. IPRs and technology transfer
3. Case study of effect of IPRs on implementation of the Montreal Protocol
4. TRIPS, technology and the environment
a. Major concerns about effects of TRIPS on the environment
b. Excluding the patenting of environmentally harmful technologies and products
c. Relaxing IPRs standards for environmentally sound technologies
d. TRIPS, biological resources and plant varieties
5. Provisions in TRIPS for technology transfer

References

 


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