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Article 27(3)(b) of the TRIPS agreement requires all World Trade Organization (WTO) members to offer intellectual property protection for plant varieties in the form of patents or 'effective sui generis protection.' There is no mention in the TRIPS agreement of traditional knowledge, but it is flexible enough to allow some forms of protection. However, there was a review of Article 27(3)(b) (in 1999), and a review of the progress of member states in implementing the TRIPS agreement (in 2000), wherein it may be possible to introduce amendments to protect traditional knowledge.

Many developing countries have attempted to interject consideration of traditional knowledge protection in the context of these reviews. Their efforts have coincided with, and consequently been included in, the decision to launch a new comprehensive round of trade negotiations under the aegis of the WTO. To this end, Article 19 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration instructs the TRIPS Council to examine: 'the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity, the protection of traditional knowledge and folklore,' in the context of its review of Article 27.3 (b) and the review of the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement. Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that the WTO member states will arrive at the consensus necessary to alter the TRIPS agreement. This would oblige members to provide some form of intellectual property protection for indigenous and local knowledge (including, presumably, farmers' varieties that satisfied the new sui generis criteria for protection). Until such time, there is nothing explicit in the TRIPS agreement that obliges PGR managers to obtain PIC from indigenous communities if collecting or exchanging those communities' plant varieties.

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