Tag Archive: Intellectual Property Rights

RAILROADING AFRICAN GOVTS INTO ADOPTING ARIPO PVP PROTOCOL BASED ON UPOV 1991: AFSA APPEALS TO ARIPO MEMBER STATES FOR POSTPONEMENT OF DIPLOMATIC CONFERENCE AND FOR URGENT CONSULTATIONS WITH SMALL-HOLDER FARMERS

AFSA attended a Regional Workshop on the ARIPO PVP Protocol, 29-31 October 2014, in Harare Zimbabwe, where numerous technical and administrative flaws continue to characterise the process. In particular, member states were forced into accepting a recommendation, disguised as if crafted by them, mandating ARIPO to urgently organize and call for the Diplomatic Conference for the adoption of the Protocol. In reality, member states, instead, unanimously endorsed the need for further consultations to be held at national levels and independent expert review of the draft ARIPO PVP Protocol and that talk of a Diplomatic Conference to adopt the Protocol is hopelessly premature.

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ACB’s comments on the Plant Breeders Rights Bill

We are grateful to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for allowing us the opporunity to attend the stakeholder workshop on the 22nd of May 2013 and for inviting us to submit our comments on the Plant Breeders? Rights Bill. We are also pleased to note that the DAFF has indeed taken on board several comments and contributions made by the ACB in previous submissions and consultations on the previous version of the Plant Breeders? Rights Bill.

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ACB Submission to the Department of Trade and Industry on the Intellectual Property Amendment Bill, 20 October 2010

The Intellectual Property Amendment Bill aims to strengthen intellectual property rights relating to traditional performances, traditional work, traditional terms of expressions and traditional designs.

The Bill has been widely condemned as sounding the death knell for traditional knowledge as it attempts to provide protection for Traditional Knowledge (TK) within a western intellectual property regime, originally developed for inventions such as machines. The ACB is asking that the Bill be scrapped and that instead, a sui generis system for protection of TK is provided for.

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THE RACE TO OWN AFRICA’S SORGHUM GENES!

17 June 2010

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) today published a third research paper in its ‘Sorghum Series’1titled, ‘The Sorghum Gene Grab.’

The hunt for agrofuel and drought tolerant crops has propelled a huge commercial interest in sorghum, including a spate of patent claims over different components of the sorghum genome.

Patent claims have been lodged by US companies, Ceres and Edenspace as well as the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University (Texas A&M) and Rutgers University. Key sought after traits include sorghum flowering, plant growth (biomass), sugar content and cold and salt tolerance. Patent claims are designed to control a set of promoter genes and other genetic components of sorghum to create sorghum cultivars. According to author, Edward Hammond “This move is the contemporary biotech equivalent of an 18th century European explorer planting his flag on a little understood foreign land and claiming it for himself or his sovereign, as if by divine right subordinating all other interests in the territory.”

The paper also points to the rapid consolidation of the sorghum industry in the US, as a result of the demand from agrofuel refineries and the importance of drought tolerant crops. Africa

The privatisation of Publically Funded Research in South Africa; Lessons from the US Bayh-Dole experience

In this paper, we present an overview of South Africa‘s Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly funded research and development Act, which imitates the US Bayh-Dole Act. The paper draws on the experience of the Bahy-Dole legislation in the US to show the shortcomings of the common approach aimed at facilitating the transfer of innovative research from the public to the private sector by way of IRP protection including patents. In the US, the Bayh-Dole has dramatically changed the nature of publicly financed institutions from those conducting pure research to quasi commercial entities withholding information in the quest for patent protection.

By Michelle Misaki Koyama

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The GM stacked gene revolution: A biosafety nightmare

Stacked GMOs are those containing more than one gene genetically engineered into a crop plant. A controversial stacked GMO, Smarstax containing 8 such genetically engineered genes, was commercially approved in the US, Canada, Japan and South Korea during 2009. Stacked gene varieties are highly complex, posing new biosafety risks that outpace the capacity of regulatory systems. Since 2005 theglobal area under stackedGMOs has nearly trebled, to just under 30 million ha. If thisrateof adoption continues,an area the size of Mozambique could be planted with them by 2015.Their research, development and ownership is also dominated by a handful of the world’s largest biotech companies. This drive for stacked GMOs is ostensibly for ‘climate ready’ crops to improve ‘food security’ and ‘climate adaptation’. However, the increased profit margins of stacked GMOs, and the opportunities they will afford for the unprecedented patenting of lifeforms hints at an altogether more insidious motivation.

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Africa’s Granary Plundered Privatisation of Tanzanian Sorghum Protected by the Seed Treaty

By Edward Hammond December 2009.

A gene recently isolated from a Tanzanian farmers’ variety of sorghum may yield tremendous pro?ts for multinational companies and government researchers in the United States and Brazil. Called SbMATE, it is not only useful in sorghum; but also may be used in other crops, including genetically engineered (GE) maize, wheat, and rice as well as GE tree plantations.
Government researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and the Texas A&M University (US) have patented the gene in the US. They have also ?led an international patent application in which they state that they will seek patents on the Tanzanian gene across the world, including in Africa.
The commercial potential of the gene is strong. Although it was only recently identi?ed, the giant multinational Dow Chemical is already negotiating with the US government to license it. Japan’s second largest paper products company has also expressed interest in buying access to it.

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Genes from Africa: the colonisation of African DNA

?You people. We thought you folks had taken everything you could.
You took our land, you took our homes.
You stole our pottery and our songs and our blankets and our designs.
You took our language and, in some places, you even took our children.
You snatched at our religion and at our women.
You destroyed our history and now,
now it seems you come to suck the marrow from our bones.?

Jeanette Armstrong, an indigenous woman from Canada
at a meeting on the Human Genome Diversity Project

By Edward Hammond and Mariam Mayet

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Pirating African heritage: the pillaging continues – Media release

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), a non- profit activist organization based in South Africa, has today released a report documenting 7 new cases of suspected biopiracy involving legally untenable patents/patent applications.

Some patents have already been granted and others are still pending in Europe and the USA in respect of African resources ranging from medicinal plants, and marine sponges to human viruses. The patent claimants include European big corporations such as Bayer and Louis Vuitton (Christian Dior), small natural health businesses, and even include the USA government.

?The 7 cases show that the patent systems in Europe and the United States are being used to promote the misappropriation of traditional knowledge and biological resources from the South? said Mariam Mayet, Director of the ACB.

German based agriculture and healthcare giant Bayer, has staked a claim to the use of any extract from any plant of the Vernonia genus in Madagascar for ?improving the skin status.? The patent application appears to violate international law as it duplicates traditional knowledge held by indigenous communities in Madagascar. Bayer has in particular, laid claim to a particular Vernonia species endemic to Madagascar, known as ‘ambiaty’, which is used