Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Predatory intellectual property claims on plant materials

A nearly 8-year effort to redress a notorious act of biopiracy finally achieved its objective on April 29, 2008, when the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced it was definitively rejecting all patent claims for a yellow-seeded variety of common bean named ‘Enola’.

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which has a world mandate for common bean improvement within the CGIAR, took up a legal challenge to the patent in late 2000. The Center’s efforts to reverse the patent have received significant coverage in the international media and helped arouse concern worldwide about predatory intellectual property claims on plant materials originating in the developing world.

The importance of eliminating such abuses seems especially obvious in the face of today’s global food price crisis. More than ever, developing countries must have free access to plant genetic resources that are vital for bolstering food security and adapting agriculture to the impacts of climate change.

CGIAR story of the Month June 2008: Fighting for Fair Use of Plant Genetic Resources
The FARA bi-monthly Bulletin of April-May has as theme IPR and agricultural research in Africa