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