|Mobilizing science for global food security. Report of the CGIAR Panel on Proprietary Science and Technology. (1998)|
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research - CGIAR
Document No.: SDR/TAC:IAR/98/7.1
Mid-Term Meeting, 1998
May 25-29, 1998
Attached is the Report of the CGIAR Panel on Proprietary Science and Technology with the transmittal letter from the Chairman of TAC to the Chairman of the CGIAR and TACs commentary on the Report.
This report is issued as background to the agenda item on Biotechnology - Report of the CGIAR Panel on Proprietary Science and Technology.
The Report, which will be introduced by the Panel Chair in plenary session, will be discussed in parallel session. The Chair of the parallel session will report the outcome of the discussions to the Group for decision making.
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CONSULTATIVE GROUP ON INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL
TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
REPORT OF THE CGIAR PANEL ON PROPRIETARY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Donald L. Winkelmann, Chairman
15 April 1998
Dear Mr. Serageldin,
I have the pleasure of transmitting to you the report of the CGIAR Panel on Proprietary Science and Technology that was chaired by Mr. Timothy Roberts of the UK. The report, as well as comments solicited by TAC from a number of outside experts, were considered by the Committee at its 74th meeting in Hyderabad in March 1998. The Panel Chair was present at the meeting as was one of the Panel members. TAC subsequently prepared a commentary on the report which is attached to this letter.
Discussion of this report will complete one phase of the process initiated at MTM97 when the Group requested the appointment of this Panel under the auspices of TAC. Panel membership was decided after extensive consultation with the Members of the Group and combined a remarkable range of relevant experience.
The Panel started its work in September 1997, engaged initially in an electronic exchange on the issues to be addressed, consulted with Members of the CGIAR community and other stakeholders, held two meetings, and conducted surveys, one of centres utilizing intellectual property. TAC considers that the Panels report significantly advances understanding of the issues confronting the CGIAR with respect to intellectual property protection. The Committee recognizes that the Panels terms of reference were difficult to satisfy, given the wide diversity of views on the issues by different stakeholder groups and the uncertainty of the legal environment. Nevertheless, TAC is pleased with the progress that has been made.
Mr. Ismail Serageldin
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
355 E. Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, NM 87501 · (1-505) 988-1284 · FAX: (1-505) 988-1285 · firstname.lastname@example.org
In its commentary, TAC first reaffirms specific areas of agreement, expands on some points made by the Panel, and then supplements aspects of the Panels recommendations. TAC joins the Panel in favouring the arguments for acquiring protection in three situations: access, partnerships, and technology transfer. TAC also agrees that centre research and development should not be undertaken explicitly for the purpose of generating intellectual property for trade or for revenue. The Committee believes that CGIAR policy should promote an assessment of patenting and other forms of protection while assuring that advantages and disadvantages are accounted for.
One implication of the recommendations of the report lies in the consequences for the CGIARs focus on international public goods. Public goods are, among other things, non-proprietary and non-rivalrous. Biotechnology is opening up new possibilities and new opportunities to make proprietary claims, in effect thereby permitting the removal of some products from the public goods portfolio. The very pursuit of intellectual property protection by the CGIAR testifies to the non-public goods nature of the products for which such rights are being pursued. Even so, to the extent that the CGIAR intends to use property rights to maintain the products in the public domain, the products retain some of the characteristics of non-proprietary goods.
We believe that the attached report and TACs commentary will allow for a stimulating discussion at MTM98 and provide the Group with the information necessary to make appropriate policy decisions. The issues involved are difficult and often extremely sensitive. The CGIAR must address these urgently if it is to make further progress in reaching its goals of sustainable food security.
Donald L. Winkelmann