Lara E. Ewens

Document Type



Presently, intellectual property law is the mechanism that determines international protection and control over biotech innovations in plant varieties and the genetic resources that form the basis for those innovations. The intellectual property paradigm that is utilized employs western definitions of property in order to provide a framework in which to allocate rights. This has resulted in serious distributive problems: western-specific ideas about property, authorship, and individual creative inventors do not translate well to areas where cultural knowledge or generational innovation form the basis of important societal achievements. The default solution in the international agricultural context has been to almost entirely forego any sort of property protection for cultural and indigenous knowledge and innovation. Until international intellectual property law increases awareness of the importance of the public domain in preserving genetic diversity, protecting the global food supply, and safe-guarding genetic resources, intellectual property law will under-value and under-compensate the contributions and agricultural concerns of the developing countries that safeguard the vast majority of the world's plant genetic resources.