Publication: Intellectual Property Rights in the Breeding Industry : Farmers’ Interests

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Louwaars, Niels
Tripp, Rob
Eaton, Derek
Intellectual property rights (IPRs) in plant breeding are being introduced or strengthened in developing countries as a result of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organization. Although living organisms have traditionally been excluded from patent protection, pressures to promote plant breeding in several industrialized countries (including pressure from farmers' organizations) resulted in the development of specially adapted IPRs for plant varieties beginning in the 1930s. Why would farmers be interested in a legal instrument that is likely to make them pay more for seed? The answer is that farmers are the immediate beneficiaries of new varieties, and they benefit from increased investments in breeding. Decisions about what level of farmers' privilege is appropriate in national IPR legislation are further complicated by the related concept of farmers' rights. Farmers' associations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that represent farmers need to be involved in the national debate on agricultural IPRs. Finally, In countries where the rights are weaker, it is important to recognize that private sector incentives for investment will be correspondingly lower, and that public-sector plant breeding will need to be well financed to provide the necessary support.
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Louwaars, Niels; Tripp, Rob; Eaton, Derek. 2006. Intellectual Property Rights in the Breeding Industry : Farmers’ Interests. Agricultural and Rural Development Notes; No. 14. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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