News / 6 June 2013

Who will pay for it?

At the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, an important discussion is now being held. The discussion is about the question if strict rules will be imposed on the least developed countries for the protection of intellectual property. These regulations are meant to protect investments in the development of new products, but they also block the development of the poorest countries. Thus far, these countries were therefor excepted from regulations for developed (i.e. rich) countries, but this agreement ends July 1st this year. Both ENDS’ Burghard Ilge has been working to make sure the agreement will be prolonged. ‘I fear many people in these countries will no longer have access to medicine and study books.’


Respite or cancellation?

The EU is in favour of keeping this agreement until 2020, and then cancelling it. Burghard argues that the strict regulations should actually never apply to the least developed countries. For this means that normal people in those countries would not be able to use goods seen as intellectual property. ‘Public libraries and hospitals in developing countries do not have the means to pay for book or medicine rights.’


Consequences of stricter regulations

That strict rules can have great consequences for developing countries already shows in the field of seeds Burghard explains: ‘Many developing countries face problems food shortages, so small farmers are vital for food safety in their environment. On top of that, diversity in crops can offer protection against diseases and droughts. But small farmers don’t have much money for seeds and moreover the minimal order of seeds is often much too large. So the farmers would like to use the seeds of their plants for next season or to exchange them with other farmers. They are not allowed to. A well-known company taking such farmers to court is Monsanto. Big demonstrations were held against this company two weeks ago.’



Together with 360 civil society organisations from all over the world, Both ENDS is worried. ‘We don’t want the regulations for developed countries to be applied to the least developed countries, because this would affect millions of people.’ Other regulations, like the patents on seeds, should be much softer. Both ENDS urges the Dutch government to support the least developed countries in the decision-making processes in Brussels and Geneva.    



Read the article written by Burghard Ilge here.


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