Will governments opt for a multilateral system of crop germplasm exchange or will they determine to pursue bilateral agreements between countries and companies? RAFI examines Africa's bargaining position, and concludes that bilateral negotiations over crop germplasm will benefit the North, at the expense of food security in the South.
Gene Licensing Agreements; Precision Farming
Two trends in industrial agriculture are contributing to the erosion of farmers' rights and lead to bioserfdom: 1) Monsanto's 1996 gene licensing agreement; 2) "Precision farming" and the role it plays in the commodification of information technology and the growing influence of the life industry in farm-level decision-making.
This map illustrates the transfer of human tissues through third countries. This graphic is part of the Communique on Human Tissue Trade.
The Global Traffic and Market in Human Biomaterials
Despite the promise of medical breakthroughs, the utilization of human tissue prompts intense ethical concerns regarding ownership of human biomaterials, eugenics, discrimination and medical confidentiality. A large and growing South to North and North to North movement of human tissue is taking place in an almost total policy and regulatory vacuum.
Bolivian Quinoa Claimed in US Patents
"Biopiracy" -- a term coined by RAFI in 1994 - refers to the use of intellectual property laws to gain exclusive monopoly control over genetic resources that are based on the knowledge and innovation of farmers and indigenous peoples. This issue examines a patent claim on Bolivian quinoa, a US patent on turmeric, and more.
New IPR Resource Kit Available. U.S. Equivocates on Hagahai Patent
This is RAFI's first annual update on the "Life Industry" - the giant transnational enterprises that use, buy, sell and control an ever-growing market share of bio-industrial products relating to food, agriculture and health. A list of the top 10 corporations, ranked by 1995 sales, is given for each sector.
Cotton "Failing in the Field"
Pharmaceutical firms and biotech companies are approaching botanical gardens to buy samples of tropical plant diversity - a clear violation of the spirit - if not the law - of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The rights of farmers and indigenous peoples are being bypassed by corporate deals that make a mockery of the CBD's fundamental principles.
Human Tissue Collection Initiatives by the U.S. Military; Colombian Indigenous Peoples' Cells in the U.S.; Accompanying maps showing cell collections inColombia and Papua New Guinea
Crucial Decisions in 1996. The Real Hot Spots.
RAFI's survey of agricultural biodiversity reveals that 75% of ex situ genetic resources and technology are held in the North, while 83% of in-situ genetic resources and technology are held in the South. Multilateral regimes for agricultural biodiversity management must insure that proceeds from biodiversity benefits go to the South's farmers.
Bio-Prospectors Hall of Shame...or Guess Who's Coming to Pirate Your Plants?! Pros and Cons of Bilateral Bioprospecting Agreements
ISSUE: Biodiversity prospecting is the exploration, extraction and screening of biological diversity and indigenous knowledge for commercially valuable genetic and biochemical resources. Bilateral bioprospecting agreements are sanctioned by the multilateral Convention on Biological Diversity. In the vast majority of cases, however, commercial bioprospecting agreements cannot be effectively monitored or enforced by source communities, countries, or by the Convention, and amount to little more than "legalized" bio-piracy.
The Intellectual Property Challenge to Public Agricultural Research and Human Rights and 28 Alternative Initiatives
Given their current governance structure, CGIAR has neither the competence nor the accountability to be entrusted with intellectual property (IP) or public/private policy decisions. Immersed in their work and the struggle to survive, they have taken the path of least resistance and followed the IP trail. RAFI suggests at least 28 specific policy initiatives that the public sector should consider as alternatives to IP. A 33 page document.
Seminis Eliminates 2,000 Varieties
Seminis, the world s largest vegetable seed corporation, announced that it would eliminate 2,000 varieties or 25% of its total product line as a cost-cutting measure. Seed industry consolidation is dramatically narrowing the availability of non-hybrid vegetable varieties and a wealth of seed diversity is being lost forever.
Oil on Troubled Waters...or just a Tempest in a Test-tube?
In 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly voted to allow the patenting of a living microorganism intended to soak up oil spills. The decision ushered in a new era in intellectual property. Suddenly, the products and processes – even the formulae - of life became patentable. From microorganisms, patent offices have soldiered on to grant exclusive monopolies for plants, animals, entire species, human cell lines, and even fragments of human DNA that only Computers have seen and no one has understood.
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