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25 Loy. L.A. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 117 (2002-2003)
Beans, Beans, the Patented Fruit: The Growing International Conflict over the Ownership of Life

handle is hein.journals/loyint25 and id is 125 raw text is: Beans, Beans, the Patented Fruit: The
Growing International Conflict over the
Ownership of Life
Seeds are at the center of the conflict between developing
nations and corporations over the expansion of intellectual
property rights (IPRs) to genetic material.1 This property dispute,
instigated by globalization and the increasing influence of
biotechnology, reaches far beyond agriculture into nearly every
corner of human        experience.2      The rush    for IPRs not only
endangers the world's collection of seeds and other plant
germplasm,3 but also ignores the sovereign right of states to
control the genetic material located within their borders.4
In recent years, corporations in the developed world have
claimed ownership of many genetic resources including basmati
1. Vandana Shiva, GA TT, Agriculture and Third World Women, in ECOFEMINISM
231,241 (1996) [hereinafter Shiva, Third World Women].
2. Fred Powledge, Patenting, Piracy, and the Global Commons, 51 BIOSCIENCE,
Apr. 1, 2001, at 273.
3. Id Germplasm in plants is a seed or any part of a plant that can be used for
reproduction. Timothy Pratt, Patent on Small Yellow Bean Provokes Cry of Biopiracy,
N.Y. TIMES, Mar. 20,2001, at F5.
4. United Nations Conference on Environment and Development: Convention on
Biological Diversity, June 5, 1992, art. 4, 31 I.L.M. 818, 822, 824 [hereinafter CBD]. In the
Preamble of the CBD, the contracting parties (157 countries and the European Economic
Community) reaffirmed that states have sovereign rights over their own biological
resources including genetic resources, organisms or parts thereof, populations, and any
other biotic component of ecosystems with actual or potential use or value for humanity.
Id at 823. The CBD also recognized biological and genetic resources are the sovereign
property of the country of origin and indigenous communities who contribute their
knowledge to these resources must be reimbursed. See Meetali Jain, Note, Global Trade
and the New Millennium: Defining the Scope of Intellectual Property Protection of Plant
Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge in India, 22 HASTINGS INT'L & CoMP. L.
REV. 777, 784 (1999). The CBD, however, is only enforceable if each country creates
domestic legislation to protect the objectives of the CBD. Id The United States has
refused to sign the CBD because many issues regarding IPRs remain unresolved. Id. at
782 n.22.

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