Intellectual property rights in agricultural and agro-food biotechnologies to 2030 (© OECD International Futures Programme)
The report contains two sections. The first analyses the incentive mechanisms in agricultural biotechnologies; it begins with a theoretical and historical analysis. The co-evolution of scientific paradigms and IPR in agricultural biotechnologies is then studied – in particular, the coexistence of various rights to protect the same innovation: a plant variety. The scientific paradigm presented – that of a gene intervening in several functions and a function depending on the interaction of several genes – is shown to modify considerably its link with IPR, so that patent thickets emerge. What is required is to implement at the same time a collective management of IPR and a collective management of research. The section looks at the stakes for farmers, who are the consumers of these innovations. Lastly, it addresses the stakes for the developing countries: the implementation of credible intellectual property rights must be accompanied by the implementation of a credible competition law to avoid situations of abuse of dominant position. These various effects show that research incentives in agricultural biotechnology are increasingly a question of co-ordination of research actors rather than a question of individual incentives. The second section looks at the future, from the science perspective (what demand will there be for what research tomorrow?) and an IPR perspective under the constraint of environmental change, like climate change. If intellectual property rights in agricultural biotechnologies, as well as the size of the expected market, are necessary conditions to develop innovations, what are the sufficient conditions? Various technologies are presented that could be mobilised in agricultural biotechnologies by 2030, including nanotechnologies. The report looks at the stakes in terms of intellectual property rights in the case, for example, of a plant allowed to perform multiple functions (food and industrial). It analyses the stakes for the developing countries. Finally, it makes proposals regarded as essential so that intellectual property rights keep up with the evolution of research and demand.
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