Changes in the Plant Treaty - How Can Benefit Sharing Happen and the Link to Intellectual Property Rights - Assessing the Mutually Supportiveness

Law Environment and Development Journal, Vol 11, No 1, 2015, pp. 21-34.

In the discussions concerning the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA or the ‘Plant Treaty’) often the access side takes up most of the attention. This leaves the benefit sharing aspects somewhat in the shadows. This article explores the relationship between the utilisation of plant genetic resources and the required benefit sharing. It also looks at the relationship to the intellectual property right systems that are relevant to the plant sector, namely patents and plant variety protection. As this article shows, it is of crucial importance for the Plant Treaty to redefine the trigger points for benefit sharing so that the rights of the providers and particularly farmers in developing countries can benefit from their utilisation. The raison d’être for the multilateral system for open access to plant genetic resources is dependent on the benefit sharing also to happen. Significate changes are required for these obligations to be made actual for the plant breeder companies that are heavily dependent on the open access to plant genetic material for further breeding.