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.
Recent Content Related to International Governance
Embarrassed by the deluge of more than 1850 letters from concerned farmers, scientists, and other individuals from 54 countries, the USDA's "Fact Sheet" is a muted re-hash with no new arguments or data.
One of the most eagerly awaited publications in the plant genetic resources (PGR) community. - Diversity 1994, 10(2), 25
The recent GATT agreement and the Biodiversity Convention have moved intellectual property rights to the centre of South-North relations.
Decisions about intellectual property, particularly for plant life, have major implications for food security, agriculture, rural development, and the environment for every country in the South and the North. For the South, in particular, the impact of intellectual property on farmers, rural societies, and biological diversity will be profoundly important.
* Patents granted for genetically engineered cotton could profoundly influence the future of a $20 billion crop critical to many national economies in the South.
* Farmers' organizations in Andean countries believe that patents granted for two varieties of coloured cotton do not recognize the major contribution to the new product by indigenous communities in South and Central America.