Maintaining Access to Modern Science to Serve the Poor: A Case Study with Rice

Issue Date:
Aug 08 2002
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
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Modern biology is generating revolutionary advances in genetic knowledge and our capacity to change the genetic make up of crops and livestock. Much of this new science is proprietary, owned both by the private sector and increasingly by advanced public sector researchers, leading to a concern by many, and expressed by Serageldin (past chair of the CGIAR): that the progressive monopolization of knowledge – and the increasing marginalization of most of the world’s population – is skewing the new science to the benefits of the rich and excluding the poor. The poor of the world deserve the best that science has to offer. Consequently, national and international public sectors in the developing world will have to play a key role, in accessing proprietary tools and products (Intellectual property (IP)) from the private sector to serve the poor. Conversely, the owners of the IP have an opportunity and an obligation to see that their technologies are made available to the poor in non-commercial markets. The paper discusses policy and institutional options for accessing IP within a framework of public and private bargaining chips and segmented markets. Four case studies focusing on rice, the food source for most of the world’s poor, are discussed. The case studies are the exchange of germplasm to maintain choices and diversity in farmers fields, the discovery and ownership of a rice gene from African rice, the freedom to operate (FTO) Vitamin A rice, and an International Consortium on Rice Functional Genomics to provide a public platform for gene discovery in rice. The challenge is to develop a shared vision for rice research that will provide the public sector access and freedom to use modern tools and sufficient incentives for the private sector (including advanced institutions in developed and developing countries) to innovate, develop, and deliver new rice technologies and more choices to farmers (and consumers).

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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