V. MULTILATERAL TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT AGREEMENTS
A. Uruguay Round negotiations
1. Trade-related intellectual property rights
Developed countries have taken an active stance under GATT in defining inadequate intellectual property rights (IPRs) as a trade barrier, the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPs). The imposition of any changes in national IPR laws under TRIPs will have implications regarding genetic materials for the involved institutions and individuals (e.g., inventors), including product prices, research investment, structure of the industry, the roles of public and private institutions and, where applied specifically to germ plasm, exchange and access among breeders and researchers as well as biodiversity in agricultural crops of bioengineered varieties. In terms of biodiversity, the higher yielding crops may lead to traditional farmers abandoning old varieties and some food crops altogether, reducing further the already limited diversity of major food crops. IPRs may lead to the extinction of traditional varieties, in part by making it illegal for farmers to save seeds. Under the TRIPs agreement it is stated that signatory States:
The wording of TRIPs appears to allow the continued exclusion of plants and animals from patent protection, but changes can be expected in patents for pharmaceutical products, micro-organisms and plant breeders’ rights. Patents may be sought for genetic resources in the form of the entire organism (micro-organism or plant) or parts thereof, such as a gene complex. Patents are not granted for a plant in its entirety, but for a plant (or other product) with unique characteristics, as specified in the patent claims, for example, elevated tryptophane levels, herbicide resistance etc. With respect to the implementation of the TRIPs Agreement, developing countries have a five-year transition period and least-developed countries a 10-year period. However, no changes can be expected soon unless developing countries determine it is in their own interest to act quickly.