The Negotiations Web:
This chapter examines the increasingly complex linkages between the various international
negotiations in trade, environment, agriculture and intellectual property (IP) that govern the
ownership and control of genetic resources discussed in Chapters 2–6. The diversity of negotiat
ing constituencies and lack of policy coherence at all levels, in addition to the forum
management strategies used by some countries, has resulted in an array of agreements that can
have inconsistent or overlapping objectives. The various authors of the previous chapters identi
fied what they saw as important linkages; those comments are drawn together, along with other
linkages, in this chapter.
Chapters 2–6 described how the scope of IP has expanded, through different multilateral agreements, to include genetic resources and associated knowledge for agriculture and food. Forum proliferation and the increasing complexity of the various international treaties create and contribute to controversies, conflicts, grey areas and other problems.
This chapter discusses the strategies being pursued to deepen global IP expansion and harmonization, such as forum management and bilateral and regional free-trade agreements, enforcement mechanisms, World Trade Organization (WTO) accessions and the implications for genetic resources. Next, it discusses the linkages around the harmonization of IP and the access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources and the way this is shaping how international instruments such as those discussed in Chapters 2–6 relate to each other. It then moves on to some of the broad problems identified with the approach of balancing the exchange of genetic resources with IP protection within an increasingly patent-dominated system. Finally, it briefly examines other linkages, such as some of the development and emerging human rights issues.