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The Limits of intellectual property rights: Lessons from the spread of illegal transgenic seeds in India

Listed author(s):
  • N. Lalitha


    (Gujarat Institute of Development Research, Ahmedabad)

  • Carl E. Pray


    (The State University of New Jersey)

  • Bharat Ramaswami


    (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)

Genetically modified seeds have to be approved by biosafety regulators before they can be commercialized. Illegal seeds are, however, common in many developing countries including Brazil, China and India. They potentially pose dangers to biosafety and also undermine the intellectual property rights of firms that own the genetically modifed traits. Their unchecked spread has been attributed to the near impossibility of enforcement when potential violators involve millions of small farmers. Based on a survey of cotton growers in Gujarat, India in 2004, and an examination of the structure of cotton seed production this paper finds that the government, in fact, possesed the information and means to enforce the law. A contingent valuation exercise reveals high relative valuations for illegal seeds correlated with the perceived costs of pesticide application. We discuss how that matters to the political cost of enforcement and to socially optimal policies

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Paper provided by Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India in its series Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers with number 08-06.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2008
Handle: RePEc:ind:isipdp:08-06
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  1. Devparna Roy & Ronald Herring & Charles Geisler, 2007. "Naturalising transgenics: Official seeds, loose seeds and risk in the decision matrix of Gujarati cotton farmers," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 158-176.
  2. Matin Qaim & Alain de Janvry, 2003. "Genetically Modified Crops, Corporate Pricing Strategies, and Farmers' Adoption: The Case of Bt Cotton in Argentina," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(4), pages 814-828.
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