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India seeks to generate more support at WTO on linking TRIPS to bio-piracy

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 30, 2018 Published on May 30, 2018

Sudhanshu Pandey, Joint Secretary, Commerce Ministry   -  NAGARA GOPAL

Two-day seminar in Geneva to discuss the issue

With more than a hundred members already on board, India is trying to generate more support at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for its efforts to link Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) to check instances of biopiracy and misappropriation of traditional knowledge by global corporates.

New Delhi is organising a two-day international conference in Geneva on June 7-8 to revive WTO discussions on issues related to preventing theft of traditional knowledge. The effort is co-sponsored by Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa.

“The Centre for WTO studies had organised a TRIPS-CBD linkage conference in Delhi in March which was very well attended. So far, 109 countries are on board which is a very big number. But some of the major economies, are still not on board. So this exercise is basically to check that all those who were supporting are still there and how much they are willing to push the issue. One has to also see if there has been any reconciliatory position on part of others ,” Commerce Joint Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said addressing a press conference on Wednesday. Globally, a lot of indigenous products and the knowledge related to their use have been converted into commercial ventures and products by several big companies which have made billions. But any benefit of that has not gone to the community from where it essentially came, pointed out Pandey.

In the two-day event in Geneva, efforts will be made to revive proposals on the issue already being discussed in different councils but lying dormant for some time. “Participants will try to make some headway in these proposals,” Pandey said.

India wants the TRIPS agreement to make it compulsory for patent applicants to disclose the source of origin of the biological resource and evidence of consent and benefit sharing with the traditional knowledge holder so that indigenous communities are not at a loss. Other WTO members which have been actively advocating the need to revive talks on TRIPS and CBD include Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, the African Group, Peru, and Thailand.

Published on May 30, 2018

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