NABC Report 07: Genes for the Future: Discovery, Ownership, Access

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Published 1995 by NABC.

Agricultural biotechnology is advancing at a rapid rate that obtaining answers to questions about gene ownership and access have become critically important. Intellectual property rights control the transfer of knowledge in the molecular biology of agricultural commodities to new technology for users and establish ownership rights to intellectual property. The views of different stakeholders were represented at the conference: consumer groups, farmers, industry, government and academia. They voiced concerns about the effects IPRs on public and private research efforts and the production and delivery of products which are essential if society is to benefit from the public and private investment. IPRs need to be examined in relation to the public good, and policies may need to be established regarding access to proprietary information in agricultural technology and public access is needed to provide researchers with genes and tools to facilitate their use.

New combinations of genes in plants are a valuable resources for future civilizations because they are sources of better food, feed and fiber. However, valuation is an important consideration to sort out the proportion of value added by an inserted gene from a plant found in a developing country.

While the public is not engaged with the issues of agricultural biotechnology their buy-in is critical. Current IPR policies have a negative impact on research in agricultural biotechnology, including conflict of interest issues and increased transactional costs and there are regulatory gaps.

There is increased pressure on university scientists to work on short-term projects at the sacrifice of longer term fundamental research, thereby eroding our intellectual capital. Research being done at public institutions is affected by the patent process and the funding by private companies. On the other hand, patents provide an important industrial research incentives.

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Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 17
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    Ownership of biodiversity: A developing country’s perspective on an open international debate
    Solleiro, Jose Luis (NABC, 1994)
    It is essential that intergovernmental negotiations address the creation of a mandatory funding mechanism to recognize, reward and protect the contributions of local communities, farmers and indigenous people of all nations.
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    Intellectual property rights: Key to access or entry barrier for developing countries
    Solleiro, Jose Luis (NABC, 1994)
    Implementation of an innovation-system approach is critical to facilitate the adaptation and assimilation of biotechnology developed in other countries. Protection of IPR will play an important role creating a safe climate for technology transfer and needs to involve a close relationships between science, technology and the market to foster innovations and their dissemination. Sound policies are needed to ensure that researchers, enterprises, NGOs and farmers can participate.
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    Farmer's rights: What is fair?
    Kinsman, John (NABC, 1994)
    We need to take responsibility for the long-term problems following shortsighted decisions on patenting life forms and intellectual property rights. Farmers in this country and around the world are being pushed off their land in record numbers. A serious problem is the growing sentiment to cut funding for public research. Legislators are responding by proposing deep cuts in public funding while our country needs more public funding for research, not less.
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    Access: Bartering and brokering genetic resources
    Shands, Henry L. (NABC, 1994)
    If there is to be financial compensation for notable genes making contributions to new varieties or hybrids, developing countries may have to pay for that value when in the past, improved germplasm has been available at no cost.
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    Property is nothing more than persuasion
    Merrigan, Kathleen A. (NABC, 1994)
    The U.S. system of intellectual property rights (IPR) may not make sense as it pertains to plants
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    Gene ownership versus access: Meeting the needs
    Tribble, Jack L. (NABC, 1994)
    The continued expansion of biomedical science and the discovery and development of unique highly specific therapeutics will depend on the availability of Research Tools to the academic, governmental and commercial research scientists. This can best be accomplished by having federally funded Research Tools available non-exclusively and by encouraging collaborations between commercial laboratories and academic and governmental laboratories to develop Research Tools.
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    Access to intellectual property in biotechnology: constraints on the research enterprise
    Sederoff, Ronald; Meagher, Laura (NABC, 1994)
    Intellectual property rights (IPR) in biotechnology have a negative effect on the progress of non-profit research. Patent policy and law intend to facilitate research progress, but the current practice has led to barriers, which restrict the free exchange of information, threaten the health of scientific enterprise, and increase the cost of.
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    The impact of patents on plant breeding using biotechnology
    Day, Peter R. (NABC, 1994)
    No matter what new gene a crop cultivar contains, unless its genetic background supports good agronomic performance it will be of no practical interest to growers and farmers. For this reason, a major part of the application of biotechnology to plant breeding has been the field trials to prove the agronomic qualities of newly engineered forms. On the other hand, patents are very important in industry, while they restrict research access. To insure that the benefits of new technologies reaching the public, intellectual property rights and agreements hindering this must be limited.
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    Modem production agriculture
    Lamola, Leanna M. (NABC, 1994)
    Intellectual property rights play a central role in identity-preserved systems because they allow rights holders to reduce investment risk, preserve the identity, and control the use of value-added factors. Production contracts are the main mechanism by which producers will participate in identity- preserved systems and can reduce risks and offer premium prices.
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    Recent progress in gene isolation and gene mapping: implications for agricultural biotechnology
    Flavell, Richard B. (NABC, 1994)
    Advances in gene technology are driving plant and animal improvement into a new era which may bring with it argument, economic change and some social chaos. Industry will change, as will the role of research in public sector institutions underpinning the industry.