Questions that are central to this highly controversial debate are concerned with the ownership of biodiversity; the equitable distribution of benefits derived from the use of biodiversity; and the fair compensation for local and traditional knowledge about biodiversity.
There is a need to ensure compatibility between the World Trade Organization [Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property] (TRIPs Agreement) and the United Nations [Convention on Biological Diversity]. There are serious concerns over the complexities and uncertainties surrounding the current multilateral Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) regime, and their effects upon plants and animals, on plant variety protection systems, and on food security and agricultural biodiversity. These ambiguities caution against any strengthening of such rights at this time.
The knowledge, cultural traditions, innovations, spirituality and management practices of indigenous peoples, and traditional practices of farmers and other rural communities concerning biodiversity are an essential basis for both sustaining biodiversity and sustaining human life. No patenting should be allowed on any living thing or a product derived from it. This should not prejudice the rights of indigenous peoples, traditional farmers and fishermen to maintain exclusive control over, access to, and use of knowledge, innovations, cultural traditions and management practices concerning biodiversity and the right to just compensation for sharing that knowledge.
Art 27.3 (b) of the [Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights] (TRIPS) requires countries to recognize patents on most products and processes, including pharmaceuticals, genetically modified micro-organisms and microbiological processes. It does not require countries to respect patents on plants or animals, or essential biological processes for the production of plants and animals. In these cases, each country has the discretion to decide whether or not to recognise these patents. (The USA is lobbying to remove this discretion).
India, supported by a number of other developing countries, has expressed concern about possible conflict between the commercial orientation of the [TRIPs Agreement] and non-commercial traditional knowledge or indigenous rights, and between the [TRIPs Agreement] and the [Biodiversity Convention]. Australia and other developed countries rejected the view that there is a conflict between the [TRIPs Agreement] and the [Biodiversity Convention].
2. The World Trade Organisation TRIPs (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) agreement and unilateral pressures, especially on biodiversity-rich countries, are forcing these countries to adopt new legislations establishing property rights over forms of life with disastrous consequences for biodiversity and food security.