Knowledge for Development

Andean nations clash with US on patenting life forms

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Date: 28/12/2004

Introduction:

IPS, 17 November 2004. Access to genetic resources in South America's Andean region, which holds a quarter of the planet's biodiversity, is a point of discord in the free trade agreement that the US has been negotiating with Colombia, Ecuador and Peru since May. The US proposal would establish free access to patenting plant and animal species, designated as 'inventions' in the chapter on intellectual property in the draft treaty. This approach violates the existing legislation of the Andean Community of Nations, which expressly prohibits patenting living species, except micro-organisms. After five rounds of talks, intellectual property and agriculture are the two areas where the parties remain divided. The US proposal for patenting plants and animals has generated concern throughout many different sectors of the Andean community.

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