Developing countries are the main providers of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. Conversely, most intellectual property rights (IPRs) on seeds and medicines are concentrated in developed countries. This has some disadvantages for developing countries. Thus, patents on seed or pharmaceutical products sometimes make the access to such products for the poor more difficult and expensive; there are hardly any positive effects of IPRs on fighting poverty by contrast. This is the result of a study for the European Parliament that Ecologic Institute helped to write. The study, which was written by Ecologic Institute (Christiane Gerstetter, Christine Lucha, Katriona McGlade and Elizabeth Tedsen) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel is available for download.
Genetic resources, in the form of seed, are the basis for agriculture and thus world food security. Equally, genetic resources in the form of medicinal plants and the associated knowledge are an important input for new pharmaceuticals. Traditionally, food crops and medicinal plants have been developed by local and indigenous communities and farmers all over the world. In recent decades, research institutions and private companies have, however, taken an increasing interest in genetic resources; in parallel, legal frameworks on intellectual property rights (IPR) have been expanded to afford stronger IPR protection for seed and pharmaceuticals. The study Intellectual Property Rights and Fighting Poverty [pdf, 1 MB, English] was commissioned by the European Parliament and is carried out by the Institute for European Studies (Brussels) and the Ecologic Institute.