Our Bureau

New Delhi, June 7

A PATENT-based Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) regime may substantially decrease investments in research and development in biotechnology and pharmaceutical fields.

Nations considering adoption of the regime must bear this in mind during decision-making, said Mr Barun S. Mitra of New Delhi-based Liberty Institute, while making a presentation at a conference organised here by Mumbai-based Healthcare and Industry Information Centre and the US-based Pacific Research Institute.

The conference discussed the implications of the plan proposed by 17 bio-rich developing countries at the United Nations' Convention on Biodiversity to address the access to and the benefits from genetic resources and traditional knowledge in their countries in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical fields.

Papers presented at the conference talked about how regular media reports on bio-piracy had forced global corporations to reduce their interest in natural products as a source for R&D, resulting in shrinking investments in the fields.

They added , in the developing world, intellectual property (IP) protection "was being viewed with trepidation and suspicion" and that, despite documented benefits of IP, it had become "a source of debate and polarisation in multilateral fora, including the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the WTO, the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Council and the Convention on Biological Diversity."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 8, 2005)
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