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Rights and Access to Plant Genetic Resources under India's New Law

Ramanna, Anitha & Melinda Smale (2004):
Rights and Access to Plant Genetic Resources under India's New Law
Development Policy Review, Vol. 22, No. 4, July 2004


This article offers a detailed analysis of farmers' rights, as provided for in India's 2001 Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act. The authors find that the multiple rights system provided in this legislation aims to distribute rights equitably, but may pose the threat of an 'anti-commons tragedy' - with too many parties independently possessing the right to exclude others from utilizing a resource.

As a result of the ownership approach in the new legislation, farmers and farming communities may seek to exclude each other from access to traditional crop genetic resources. If under-utilization of plant genetic resources is the result, the Act will have negative consequences for sustaining crop productivity and thus for the welfare of the very farming communities it seeks to compensate, the authors emphasize. Developing countries in the process of formulating farmers' rights must not overlook the need to promote the exchange of agricultural resources, and all countries must make concerted efforts to ensure that emerging intellectual property rights regimes do not restrict stakeholder access to plant genetic resources, the article concludes.
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Nepal. Photo: Regine Andersen, FNI