After we posted the item about swine flu and protecting the rights of developing countries’ genetic resources we were contacted by the writer of the original article at IP Watch. Kaitlin Mara emailed:
“I was concerned there might have been some misunderstanding over what I wrote, so I just wanted to clarify a couple of points.
1) the SMTA in the agreement on pandemic influenza is not the SMTA of the International Treaty; it was written especially for the purposes of virus transfer (and thus there’s no reason for the material being transferred to involve food or feed). . In drafting the SMTA for flu, delegates at WHO used the model of the SMTA on plant genetic resources as a guide (as well as 8 others, but they paid particular attention to the work of the International Treaty).
2) whether the language of the SMTA is too broad or not is a matter of debate. This is certainly the position of industry, of the US, and of other industrialised nations. This is not at all the position of many, possibly most, developing nations — Brazil and Indonesia have been particularly strong on this point — who believe a broad SMTA is necessary to ensure their access to vaccines and other benefits. I just wanted to be clear that “too broad” is not a consensus opinion.
Also, whether or not to actually use an SMTA is not, from my understanding, still an issue. Getting rid of it was something the US proposed informally, but it didn’t go very far. The issue now is really scope.”
I would like to thank Kaitlin Mara for her clarifying comments. In fact it is my understanding that the use of the ITPGRFA’s SMTA for non food purposes is highly debated by many involved with the International Treaty; there are express wordings excluding it for such uses in the language of the IT and the IT’s SMTA. Therefore, apologies for any confusion we may have caused with the original post.