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Title: Implications of WTO for Indian agriculture: the case of intellectual property rights and emerging biosafety protocol
Authors: Gupta, Anil K.
Keywords: WTO and agriculture;Intellectual property rights;Agriculture - India
Issue Date: 12-Dec-2009
Series/Report no.: WP;99-10-06/1551
Abstract: Globalisation in trade and investment through harmonisation of national laws, particularly dealing with intellectual property rights is one of the major impacts of GATT/WTO. The contribution of knowledge as a factor of production is being increasingly given central importance in economic development. The tension between public need and private control that will mount the first challenge. The conflict between chemical intensive agriculture (despite declining productivity of inputs) and thenon-chemical sustainable technological innovations generated by farmers as well as firms (national or international) will pose second challenge. The increasing trend towards larder areas under fewer varieties and the need for food security through diversified biological systems will be the third source of conflicts. Production, protection, commercialisation and incorporation of intellectual property in development of national developmental strategies, will be crucial in defining the role India will play in world markets on one hand and overcoming deprivation and hunger with in the country on the other. The strategy proposed is aimed at making Indian agriculture not only globally more competitive but also domestically more progressive by using knowledge as a strategic resource so that agriculture sustains livelihoods of millions of households dependent upon it in an environmentally sustainable manner. The major contention is that India should not view the challenges posed by WTO as if it will remain always in importing country and that it has no substantive intellectual property to offer to world market. There must be a registration system for encouraging protection of local land races and incentive system must be generated for in situ conservation. The provision of TRIPs need tobe strengthened to include (a) micro organisms but exclude life forms, (b) registration system of grassroots innovations (unlike utility patent system, this registration system should be like product patent for ten years just as proposed in Australian Innovation patent system) (c) widespread patent search facility for educational and entrepreneurial networks and centres so that quality of research and education can be competitive, (d) just as a global registry has been proposed for wines under TRIPS, India must insists that similar global registry must exist for green small innovations too. This will help link innovation, investment and enterprise each vector of which may be in different parts of the world. The global trade regime has to deal with several related issues in regard to biosafety such as ability of the importing country to assess the risks and deal with them, regulations for labelling or GMO products so that consumers can make informed choice, restrict GMOs which may pose hazard to the very viability of the food security, for example, through terminator gene technology, etc. Prior informed consent of farmers must be ensured while pursuing on farm trials on transgenics. The reciprocity in effective protection must exist i.e., (a) those who access farmers varieties must disclose, acknowledge and undertake to provide reasonable share of their revenue with germplasm providers/conservators through appropriate institutions, and (b) PVP/patent claimant should unambiguously prove that the materials in which improvements have been made, had been obtained lawfully and rightfully.
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