Sent: 30 March 2001 16:56
Subject: Biotech Conference 6 (IPRs) - Update
Dear Forum Members,
Conference 6 of the FAO Biotechnology Forum, entitled 'The impact of intellectual property rights (IPRs) on food and agriculture in developing countries', began 10 days ago and will run for a further month, finishing on 30 April. The aim of this e-mail is to briefly summarise progress and provide an update on the conference.
So far, over 230 Forum members have registered for the conference and 16 messages have been posted. Messages have been posted by 10 different people in 9 different countries. A minority of the messages posted so far are from participants in developing countries, so we encourage increased participation from Forum members in these countries. Your comments on how IPRs have already affected food and agriculture in developing countries would be especially appreciated.
In section 3 of the Background Document to the conference, we indicated that the following six areas should be emphasised during the conference:
1) What are the impacts of IPRs (positive or negative) for food and
agriculture in developing countries
2) Compare the relative impacts in the animal, crop, fishery or forestry sectors
3) Are the impacts different for different countries or regions of the developing world
4) Are the impacts more substantial for some biotechnologies than for others
5) If some of the impacts or consequences are negative for developing countries, how can they be avoided or alleviated
6) Whether the lack of an appropriate or harmonised IPRs system in a developing country can have an impact on biotechnology transfer
Most messages posted so far have considered the topic of the impacts of IPR
on developing countries (i.e. area 1)). The majority of participants have
argued that they currently are having a negative impact because
a) in the words of Ancha Srinivasan, 22 March, "There are many instances where genetic resources from developing countries were granted patents in developed countries, often without the knowledge and consent of the owners of such resources in developing countries", leading to a feeling of frustration that the resources and knowledge of developing countries are being exploited for profit by major companies in developed countries (the case of the Andean Nuna bean has been specifically mentioned)
b) there is no sharing of the benefits (financial or otherwise) of such patents with bodies or farmers in developing countries
c) farmers and agricultural researchers in developing countries will not be able to benefit from the promise that biotechnology might offer for their problems in developing countries because of IPRs
A recurring theme in the messages was that the current IPRs system was unjust for developing countries, leading to conclusions, such as those of Robert Lettington on 20 March, that "there must be a serious reassessment of the IPR system as applied to agricultural sector - it is not meant to be applied to this and it is creating asymmetries that impact negatively on the most vulnerable"
A few of the messages have addressed area 5) above, and have thus considered ways to improve the current system in favour of developing countries, such as the proposal that "public institutions should 'pool' their IPRs in a 'professionally-administered IP portfolio designated to serve poor farmers'". We especially encourage a fuller dialogue on this area.
IPRs in the crop and animal sectors have been mentioned, although their potential implications in the forestry, fishery or agro-industry sectors in developing countries have not been discussed so far.
For those wishing to join Conference 6 and who have not yet done so, simply send an e-mail message to email@example.com leaving the subject blank and enter the one-line text message as follows:
For further information, have a look at the archives. Archives of posted messages can be received by e-mail once you have subscribed to the conference. Simply, send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org with the one-line message:
Alternatively, the messages can be viewed on the Forum website at http://www.fao.org/biotech/logs/c6logs.htm
For those who joined the Forum after the Background Document for the conference was posted (on 9 March), they can retrieve it by sending an e-mail message to email@example.com with the one-line message:
Finally, as the role of the private sector is central to the theme of this conference, we especially encourage active participation of individuals from the private sector in the remaining month of this conference.
The Forum Administrator
Note, If you want to remove yourself from the Forum, send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org leaving the subject blank and putting the following one-line message: