The impact of intellectual property rights on the rights of local communities, consumers and the environment has become a major source of controversy. This is especially so after the TRIPS Agreement in the World Trade Organisation facilitated the worldwide patenting of life forms and biological materials, which has given rise to public concerns over the environment, food security, farmers' livelihoods and the rights of indigenous peoples over their knowledge and resources.
At the heart of the debate is the increasing misappropriation of traditional knowledge by corporations that are now patenting human genes, plants and other biological materials, many of which exist in nature or have been used for generations by farmers and indigenous peoples. In this book, Martin Khor examines the "biopiracy" phenomenon, its links to the TRIPS Agreement, and its various effects. In particular, he deals with these questions:
· What are the implications of TRIPS for traditional knowledge and the rights of local communities?
· What tensions exist between the approaches and provisions of TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity?
· Should life forms be granted the status of intellectual property, and has TRIPS made patentability of biological materials mandatory?
· Will TRIPS endanger the transfer of technologies required by developing countries for their sustainable development?
· What are the options for resolving these problems and what is the way forward for each issue?
This book provides a useful summary and analysis of the key aspects in this complex and controversial subject, and just as importantly, it describes the processes and debates now taking place in the WTO and other fora, and gives suggestions on how to move ahead on the various issues.