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Published on May 8, 2008

Author: Tibald

Source: authorstream.com

Slide1:  Politics & Ideology of Intellectual Property “The Role of Civil Society” 20 – 21 March 2006 Brussels Hotel Renaissance Organized by Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue Slide2:  An Action Aid study (1999) lists in two tables patents that have been claimed for naturally occurring compounds, genes or gene sequences with a variety of functions. They include: i) 62 patents on genes or natural compounds from plants which are traditional grown in developing countries. The plants include rice (34 patents), cocoa (7), cassava (2), millet (1), sorghum (1), sweet potato (2), jojoba (3) ii) 132 patents on genes in staple food crops which originated in developing countries but which are now grown globally. The crops include maize (68 patents), potato (17 ) soybean (25) and wheat (22) Slide3:  Case of Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser Pollen from a neighbour’s GE canola fields and seeds that blew off trucks on the way to processing plant ended up contaminating Percy’s fields with Monsanto’s genetics Canada’s Supreme Crt held that Percy had technically infringed Monsanto’s patents….although he did not have to pay penalties……it costs him $400 000 Slide4:  Center of Food Safety (2005) based in Washington reports that Monsanto has filed lawsuits against 147 American farmers and the company has a staff of 75 devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers The report expressed concern that in its quest to be the source for staple crop seeds in the US and around the world, the company will overturn centuries old farming practices through lawsuits Slide5:  “Gene Patent Rush” Guardian (2000) reported after studying 40 patent authorities worldwide that patents were pending on or had been granted on more than 500 000 genes and partial sequences in living organism. 20 % of human genes have been patented in US, primarily by private firms and universities Basel based biotechnology giant Syngenta claims that it invented more than 30 000 gene sequences of rice…..more than 99.5% of the rice genome and is seeking global patents over thousands of genes in rice. “……..the multinational giant is all set to “own” rice, the world’s most important staple food crop (Sharma (2005), Third World Resurgence) “Owning the Future” :  “Owning the Future” Shulman (1999) “Gold Rush in the idea economy” “As ideas, concepts, blueprints and codes become the most sought after commodities in our new knowledge-based economy, people are hoarding, fighting over and seeking to control them as never before” “the current trajectory promises nothing less than an uncontrolled stampede to auction off our technological and cultural heritage, a future of increasing conflict and dissension, and the specter of an ominous descent into a new Dark Age” IP PRESSURE POINTS:  IP PRESSURE POINTS TRIPS Agreement : minimum standards few developing countries were involved in negotiations Resistance to inclusion within WTO Gave in because of market access in agriculture no country really understood implications World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) standard setting exercises Bilateral Free Trade Agreements & other bilateral pressures How is it being sold….:  How is it being sold…. Extensive IP regimes sold to developing countries by linking it to trade. Strong IP protection leads to technology transfer foreign direct investment innovation Civil Society:  Civil Society very important role increase understanding about IP and its impacts such as on essential goods such as medicines, educational materials, and on development through papers, publications, workshops, seminars, media….. On the issue of Access to Medicines, groups such as CPTech, HAI, MSF and others launched a campaign and brought out information about the tax payers contribution to drug development, drug pricing, its relationship to patents, about the use of compulsory licenses………stressing the need to prioritize health over commercial interests. to counter myths/fallacies about IP…… exposing the hypocrisy of the developed countries e.g. Access to Medicines campaign revealed that flexibilities such as compulsory licensing were used frequently by developed countries, but the developed countries were preventing developing countries from making use of these provisions. Civil Society:  Civil Society is an influential voice for developing countries the momentum built from the Access to Medicines campaign calling for the need to prioritize health over commercial interests, gave a strong voice in support of a proposal in the WTO by a large group of developing countries that were also pushing for the same…..leading to the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health in 2001 highlight issues that are essential to developing countries, forcing international community to address these issues epidemic of biopiracy patenting of life forms Campaign: Biopiracy:  Campaign: Biopiracy Companies are being granted patents for products, technologies that make use of the GR, plants that have been identified, developed and used by local communities and indigenous people mainly in countries from the South …..companies make huge profits but the local communities are unrewarded….and face the threat of having to buy these products in the future the injustice of the system……fought at all levels by farmers, indigenous people and public interest groups RAFI, GRAIN, TWN have worked to raise general awareness of the phenomenon of “biopiracy” Many cases of biopiracy have been identified and documented by NGOs. e.g. a publication by the Edmonds Institute and Africa Center for Biosafety documented after a month’s research possible cases of biopiracy in Africa There is a strong push by the developing countries supported by civil society organizations within the CBD, WIPO and the WTO to take steps to deal with this problem of biopiracy. Campaign: Biopiracy :  Campaign: Biopiracy In Washington in September 1995, more than 200 organisations from 35 countries filed a petition at the USPTO calling for the revocation of a patent given to W R Grace company to use a pesticide extract from the neem tree. They argued that the company has wrongfully usurped an age-old biological process used by millions of farmers in India and other countries for generations. The legal challenge was led by the US group Foundation on Economic Trends led by Jeremy Rifkin, with other key petitioners being the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resources Policy (RFSTNRP) and the Karnataka Farmers' Union (both from India), the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), and the TWN. Campaign: Biopiracy:  Campaign: Biopiracy In Brussels another legal petition was filed in June 1995 at the EPO against a patent it had granted to W R Grace for a method that extracts the neem oil for use in controlling fungi on plants. The three opponents, European Member of Parliament Magda Alvoet, Indian scientists Vandana Shiva of the RFSTNRP, and IFOAM President Herve la Prairie, argue that the patent was wrongly given as the claims for the technique lacked novelty, inventiveness and clarity. The petition argued that the invention is not new as the patented method for extracting neem oil is a standard method used for many decades, whilst the anti-fungi effects of neem oil have been known in India for centuries and thus cannot be considered a 'discovery' as claimed by the company. Campaign: No Patents on Life Forms:  Campaign: No Patents on Life Forms Issue: patenting of plants, seeds and the sui generis plant variety protection leading to corporate control over food supply Corporate mergers and broad patenting rights has led ……to top 10 seeds companies controlling 30% of the world’s commercial seed market. Traditional farming practices of exchanging, reusing, selling seeds are threatened and farmers are being sued NGO campaigns prevented many developing countries to sign on to UPOV 1991 that is harmful to their small farmers…..but that developed countries were (and are still) pressuring developing countries to adopt. Dec ’97….BIOTHAI and GRAIN together with 40 over NGOs from Africa, Asia, Latin America got together to discuss strategies to counter patents on life forms…outcome: Thammasat Resolution which called for the revision of the TRIPS Agreement and asserted the primacy of the CBD Overall Impact of Civil Society:  Overall Impact of Civil Society ……besides resisting the expansion of the IP system in the different tracks….. Campaigns have created awareness that there are problems with the system as it is currently dogmatically pursued…..leading to strong calls to evaluate the system particularly in the developed countries, the WTO and WIPO emphasis on protecting the public domain emphasis on balancing the private and public interest emphasis on fact that this one system may NOT suit all countries, the different communities….& each should have the policy space to determine and design its own system…depending on its needs. Slide16:  Thank you

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