Thesis: Agrobiodiversity conservation and plant improvement : adjustments in intellectual property rights reclaiming the public domain towards sustainability and equity, Batur, Fulya (2014)

Friday, 7 November 2014

Abstract: Intellectual property rights, mostly in the form of patents and plant variety protection, have increasingly become an integral part of plant improvement efforts. With the advent of the TRIPS Agreement and the dominant interpretative implementation of its minimum standards, actors who use, conserve and improve agricultural biodiversity are faced with a strong property rights paradigm, which has been thoroughly criticised in the doctrine. However, these critics have not created the advocated regulatory shift. The dissertation defends that this is due to the lack of socio-technological contextualisation of applicable laws and judicial interpretation. Indeed, the intellectual property paradigm applies to very different innovation contexts and confronts plant improvement actors stretching from mass selectors, small-scaled private conventional plant breeders, public molecular researchers, specialised start-ups and integrated biotechnology giants. By applying the paradigm to such contexts, the thesis wishes to identify the specific shortcomings of intellectual property rights vis-a-vis each actor of agrobiodiversity improvement. Building on these findings, it also attempts to look for existing examples of social innovation that attempt to redress identified challenges within each context. This leads to an assessment of potential regulatory and institutional solutions that majoritarily reclaim the public domain and that could either conflict with each other, or on the contrary reinforce one another. It provides an array of tools available to national legislators to ensure that the property regime of plant agrovbiodiversity is more sustainable and equitable in the long run.

Full thesis