Obama made a speech to the Millennium Development Goals Summit last week that has been grabbing lots of attention. During the speech he announced plans that have been described as “ambitious, even radical”. Read the write up on Politics Daily website “Obama’s Radical Foreign Policy Plan: The Goal is Development, Not Aid” (thanks for the link Victoria)
For the video visit
A couple of quotes of particular interest are below. For those who prefer to read the transcript of the speech visit
“Remembering the lessons of the Green Revolution, we’re expanding scientific collaboration with other countries and investing in game-changing science and technology to help spark historic leaps in development…
…Instead of simply handing out food, our food security initiative is helping countries like Guatemala and Rwanda and Bangladesh develop their agriculture and improve crop yields and help farmers get their products to market.”
The Food Security Initiative referred to is detailed on the White House press office website. They say that on the 22nd September 2010:
“…the President signed a Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, the first of its kind by a U.S. administration.”
Included on the site are 3 policy docs on 1) Climate Change 2) Global Food Security and 3) Global Health Initiative. The text for the Global Food Security can be access here
From this document:
“ The President’s global food security initiative manifests the policy in a number of ways: … it engages traditional and non-traditional donors and the private sector to build needed multilateral capacities. The United States partnered with G-20 countries, developing nations, the World Bank and other multilateral organizations to establish the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, and mobilized public and private resources to scale up agricultural assistance to low-income countries. .
… it increases investment in and support for innovation by emphasizing research and development, and by improving the extension and dissemination of research and technology development to the hands of small scale farmers through new models of public and private extension; and
…FTF focuses on creating a foundation for sustainable economic growth by helping countries accelerate inclusive agriculture sector growth through improved agricultural productivity, expanded markets and trade, and increased economic resilience in vulnerable rural communities.”
It seems that in his speech Obama is using language about development aid in way that will resonate with the US voter. Let’s hope that the U.S, and the rest of the International community can put in the extra mile(s) to reach the MDG targets.
“We must not fail the billions who look to the international community to fulfil the promise of the Millennium Declaration for a better world” — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
The National Partners Initiative (NPI) of CAS-IP is publishing 5 working papers from 5 Agricultural Research Institutions in developing countries. These case studies aim to share country experiences from developing countries in the areas surrounding IP policy making, policy implementation and use of IPRs by researchers for leveraging more benefits to the stakeholders, people, institutions and countries. The results of the five studies have been prepared as five working papers.
The first one from MARDI in Malaysia is entitled: ”Pre-Commercialisation and Licensing of Modified Virgin Coconut Oil” written by Guat Hong Teh (CAS-IP) and Rafeah A. Rahman (MARDI).
Commercialisation of publicly-funded research in Malaysia is low. Studies have shown that a complex interaction of policy direction, funding mechanism, innovation structure, diffusion mechanisms and manpower availability is necessary to increase the interaction between public research institutes, universities and the private sector, in order to bring research to market. In this paper, the authors showcase a recently patented product known as modified virgin coconut oil and how the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) has been able to up-scale its production and licence the technology to two private companies. Factors leading to its success include the newly-launched TechnoFund scheme by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI); the selection of the right private sector partners and the building of trust and confidence between them; an extremely dedicated and proactive inventor who is business savvy; and the internal MARDI support to research staff for IP management and business development needs.
The paper concludes by looking into further steps that MARDI can take to exploit the potential of this technology, investments that it should continue to make for augmenting its current internal skill sets, and a recommendation to consider the pros and cons of future models of collaboration with the private sector.
The full text can be viewed HERE.
Post written by Karine Malgrand , Facilitator of the National Partners Initiative for CAS-IP
Update to post: Report to the UN General Assembly on “The Right to Food”
On the 15th October 2009, we published a post about the Report to the UN General Assembly on “Seed Policies and the Right to Food”. This document has also been sent to us by numerous contacts in our extended network. Victoria Henson-Apollonio, Manager of CAS-IP has some initial comments:
“Intellectual Property Rights and seed systems feature in the report of the special rapporteur on the Right to Food of the UN. These are key issues for the CGIAR. It is very important to note that this report now raises awareness among an audience that may not have previously realised the importance of these issues. The recommendations are a comprehensive catalog of ideas encompassing a wide range of suggestions. However, the summary itself seems to be an industrious recap of arguments and ideas that some may consider well known and in some cases even outdated.
For those of us that work in this uneven terrain on a daily basis, it seems a missed opportunity for serious discussion on the dynamic relationships between the domain of IPRs/farmers rights/farmer preferences/contracts/contract law/competition law/seed law and food security.
It is on one hand heartening to see these issues being presented at such a high level. However, the lasting impression I have after reading the document is of disappointment and sadness of missed opportunities. Of course we have to wait for the full report and hope that it provides a clearer analysis of solid data. It is curious to note that for several people in our IP in agriculture & development network, this report came as a surprise; they (including us at CAS-IP) have so far not been consulted even though the CGIAR is specifically referred to and this is our area of experience from a practical level. The recommendations of the report will involve many, many years of hard work. It is essential that recommendations logically flow from an analysis of the data and that clear indicators are developed to measure success in obtaining the goals.
Let’s wait for the presentation of the background documents that have led to the report, monitor reactions in the mean time. Let’s involve ourselves in the discussions that likely follow from the political attention that these important issues have received.”
“Seed policies and the right to food”; The Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food from the UN website*
(*I was having problems with this link today; so if you too have problems connecting to the UN docs library link then please try this alternative link from the “Voices from Africa” website – Kay)
The report is written by Olivier De Schutter who is currently the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. Click here for the annoucement that it will be presented at the UN General Assembly on October 21st.
The Summary concludes with:
“The…report explores how States could implement seed policies that contribute to the full realization of human rights. It identifies how research and development could best serve the poorest farmers in developing countries, and how commercial seed systems could be regulated to serve the right to food and ensure the right of all to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. Finally, it examines how farmers’ seed systems could best be supported, in order to serve the interest of all in the preservation of agrobiodiversity.”
The report looks, in some detail, at IP issues and at the role of TRIPS, UPOV and CBD. Section headings include:
- The developing regime of IP rights and biodiversity protection
- The expansion of IP rights
- The protection of biodiversity and the risk of misappropriation of genetic resources
- Crop genetic diversity as a global public good
- Redirecting innovation towards the realization of the right to food
- IP rights in the commercial seed systems and the right to food
- Farmers’ seed systems and the right to food
In the conclusion, the report calls for continued innovation on all fronts and urges a non-linear approach:
“Our paradigm of agricultural development must…be redefined”.
Donors and both the CGIAR and FAO are called upon to assist and support such innovation.
This report underlines the complexity of the work we are engaged in pursuing, and focuses attention on IP issues.
Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP
This is an article from a recent WIPO magazine. What the article says is that the patent sytem can provide key indicators for policy makers by looking questions such as:
“How much of the rice genome has been patented? By whom? What is the practical impact of this for farmers, breeders and agricultural researchers? What is the geographical coverage of patents on key technologies …. for plant biotechnology, … where is technology already in the public domain? What technological and commercial opportunities do these offer developing countries? What are the implications for multilateral agreements in the fields of health, plant genetic resources and the environment?”
Specifially relating to agricultural biotech the following was of interest:
“Working with the FAO, an expert team using inputs from India, Brazil, Europe and North America developed an overview of patent activities on gene promoters – key tools used in agricultural biotechnology. The landscaping contrasts the different technological and commercial patterns developed around several key food crops – soybeans, maize, potato and rice. This is intended to guide policymakers implementing the international system for benefit sharing resulting from the use of plant genetic resources in developing new agricultural products.”
Of course, the patent system is a complicated and constantly moving target. However, this WIPO article suggests that progress is being made to mine this data to enhance policy debates. The information is there, it was always an objective of the patent system to exchange this knowledge – now, with online access the focus is on how to process and use this distillation of research results!