[To contribute to this conference, send your message to email@example.com.
For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture see Forum website.
Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]
Sent: 04 December 2002 09:23
Subject: 77: IPRs - Review of TRIPS 27.3(b), Research Exemptions & Training
Biotechnology plainly has an important role to play in developing country agriculture. As has been noted, however, intellectual property rights (IPRs) can present challenges to both the development and deployment of biotechnology products and the use of biotechnology tools such as marker-assisted selection. The Fifth Ministerial Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO), scheduled to be held in Cancún on 10-14 September 2003, could provide an opportunity to address IPR issues affecting developing countries. Although some of the energy for change seems to have been spent following the 1999 Seattle Ministerial Conference, developing countries may wish to take up the long-delayed review of Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement (WTO's agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), which requires WTO member states to provide some kind of "effective" intellectual property protection for novel plant varieties. In addition, developing countries should explore their options under TRIPS Article 30, which states that:
"Members may provide limited exceptions to the exclusive rights conferred by a patent, provided that such exceptions do not unreasonably conflict with a normal exploitation of the patent and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the patent owner, taking account of the legitimate interests of third parties." [See http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/t_agm3_e.htm ...Moderator].
This article leaves open the possibility for nations to adopt broad research exemptions to intellectual property infringement, which could be of benefit to developing country agriculture.
Whatever changes may occur in the IPR environment, however, it is certain that the issue of proprietary claims to research products will not simply go away. Those who work in developing country agriculture must develop the capacity and sophistication to deal with modern IPR systems and to negotiate and do business with institutions and companies that hold vitally needed technology. Training in these fields, by qualified instructors at affordable costs, must be made available to those who need it in developing countries.
Shawn N. Sullivan
Intellectual Property Counsel
Apdo. Postal 6-641
06600 México, D.F., México
Tel. +52-55-5804-7554 Fax +52-55-5804-7585
E-Mail: s.sullivan (at) cgiar.org
All views expressed herein are solely my personal opinions. [A reminder that the Rules of the Forum state that participants are always assumed to be speaking on their own personal behalf and not on behalf of their employers, unless they state otherwise...Moderator]
Sent: 04 December 2002 11:31
Subject: 78: Research for fruit farmers in Egypt
Thanks to the Moderator for directing discussion to the main theme of the conference, so I am here again to continue.
One of the main issues is the need of small farmers. Small farmers differ from country to another. Small farmers in my country owns less than 5 feddans [1 feddan = 4200 square metres = 0.42 hectare...Moderator], poor farmers owns about 200-400 m². Both of them make up the majority of small farmers. The curve of other owners descends till we reach the lower percentage who own more than 100 feddans and may reach thousands of feddans for companies in new projects. These big companies have no problems in developing biotechnological research according to their needs and applied new biotehnology research.
I will talk from my point of view and life experience. What about the major sector of small farmers: Their first priority is offering flour (mainly wheat and, secondly, maize because they bake their own healthy clean bread at home) and rice from their own plantation to feed their families, then they can sell the remainder to get few money for continuous life needs (food, education, health, clothes). This costs too much compared with what they gain. Looking for this situation, we can find that they always tend to have higher crops. They also try to keep some of their seeds for the next season's plantating to decrease costs of the new season's plantation (very important to them). If they have not enough seeds or facilities, they go to the agriculture banks to borrow with profit, which cause great problem for them. The solution is by increasing yield, as we know in Egypt by vertical increase. Safe biotechnology research can support vertical crop increase.
About fruit farmers, there are small farmers who try to have more money by growing the highest priced fruit in the season. This causes a decrease in prices of this fruit after a few years because many of them grow it, so most of them change to another fruit tree. Therefore, economics affect the presence of one fruit or another. On the other hand, the fruit grower could not wait for a long time for research to solve problems, as happened when fire blight attacked pears. They substituted it with other fruits and destroyed pear farms, so applied biotechnology research must be preceded by or accompanied with needs, social and economical studies. This leads to individual research studies in each country.
About my field, tropical fruits, there is a lack in studies of resources conservation. The biotechnology research is concerned with tissue culture of date palm and banana, little research were done on other fruits. My research in biotechnology followed evaluation of native cherimoya, improving it by pollination treatments and selection of new cultivars from old existing trees followed by tissue culture, micropropagation for distributing new and old cultivars, mutations, haploid are understudy for tolerant, new cultivars and seedless fruits. Breeding programs were held for other fruits. In my opinion, these are the right steps for research programs (i.e. studies first on native resources and trials to select and improve, followed by biotechnology research as we have done).
Dr Aisha, A. Badr,
Tropical fruit division,
Sabahia Horticultural Research Station,
momidic (at) hotmail.com
Sent: 04 December 2002 14:01
Subject: 79: SOFA 2003
Dear e-conference subscribers,
The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) team at FAO would like to take this opportunity to thank all the contributors and the moderator for their active participation in this discussion. In particular, SOFA would like to thank all the distinguished participants, particularly those from developing countries, who are dedicating time to follow the conference and are sharing their knowledge and experiences with others for the success of the conference (and ultimately of the SOFA report, which will address the issue of "Agricultural biotechnology, meeting the needs of the poor"). [As specified in the Background Document to the conference, "The outcome of the conference will also be used in the preparation of The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) 2003, which is one of FAO's main publications, providing an annual report on current developments affecting world agriculture"...Moderator].
We feel that this conference is an important step in broadening our consultations with you, key stakeholders in the public debate on biotechnology. We view it as an opportunity to strengthen the foundation upon which we can develop a common understanding of developing countries' needs.
We also feel, however, that some of the questions posed in the Background Document have received less emphasis than others. We think it is important to recognize the existence of different capacities and different needs when trying to assess a range of research strategies available to developing countries - see the Background Document and classification developed by Byerlee and Fischer. We also think that developing country research programmes are uniquely placed to understand and address the needs of poor farmers who face difficult economic and agro-ecological conditions. Do you agree? On the basis of these observations, we now call your attention to two specific questions posed in the background document and we would greatly appreciate your inputs on them:
- Individual developing countries differ greatly in their capacities to do biotechnology research and in the resources they have available for such activities. How important are these differences for the role and focus of biotechnology in the agricultural research agenda?
- The needs of small farmers are generally being ignored in the so-called "biotechnology revolution" How can the biotechnology research agenda of developing countries be focused towards their needs? What concrete actions can be taken?
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy
fulvia.fiorenzi (at) fao.org