Developing intellectual property rights systems in biodiversity conservation

Determining ownership over genetic resources
1. How can genetic resources be "free" if pharmaceutical and seed companies are assigning ownership to such resources through intellectual property rights such as patents and plant breeder's rights? Why are the intellectual contributions of traditional healers or farmers not accorded the same significance? How can biologically rich countries from where genetic resources are sourced be compensated for conserving these biotic riches? And why should national sovereignty be recognized for natural resources such as oil and timber, but not for genetic and biochemical resources?< 2. This biopiracy, as it is often called, yields new profits for U.S. companies, which take the raw material, alter it in the laboratory to claim an invention, and win the patent. For source countries, this represents double trouble for their economies. First, their natural resource has been appropriated by a foreign corporation, and they are prohibited from further developing the resource domestically. Second, there will be a net outflow of foreign exchange, as licensing fees and royalties are paid on any commercial products eventually exported back to their domestic markets. Indeed, the expressed goals of Intellectual Proprty Rights (IPR) to encourage innovation and promote the transfer of technology are turned on their heads.

3. The perverted logic of the US is thus the following: IPR protection will lead to foreign investment and foreign investment will protect biodiversity. This logic is flawed because foreign investments in large scale commercial ventures have destroyed biodiversity, they do not protect biodiversity.

4. IPRs as a world view, a legal setting, and a value framework violates basic ecological and human rights. If the objective of the [Convention on Biological Diversity] is to protect biodiversity, IPR protection is antithetical of the objectives of the Convention.

Counter Claim:
The attainment of the objective of biodiversity conservation requires foreign investment, joint research and commercial development, activities that will largely be undertaken by the private sector and not directly by the Contracting Parties to the Convention. Further, adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights is essential to investment, research and development.
Patents, copyright
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies