I was just sent the following and hadn't been aware of it, so
I thought I'd share it with all of you in case you hadn't seen
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 1995 13:21:28 -0800 (PST)
From: IATP <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: IP/Biodiversity News 12-20-95
To: Recipients of conference <email@example.com>
Intellectual Property & Biodiversity News
Produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
December 20, 1995
Volume 4, Number 12
>- U.N. EXPERTS WARN FARM BREEDS DYING OUT
>- RULES EASED FOR DRUG BIOTECHNOLOGY
>- BRAZIL-CUBA BIOTECH DEAL; NEW PROPOSAL FOR BRAZIL'S PATENT
>- INDIA GOVERNMENT DEFERS VOTING ON PATENT BILL
>- U.S. RELEASES LIST OF COUNTRIES ABUSING PROPERTY RIGHTS
>- EU CONFERENCE NOT EXPECTED TO CHANGE GROWTH HORMONE POLICY
>- UNIFORM POSITION ON IPRS FOR U.S./EU?
>- RICE GENETICALLY ALTERED TO RESIST DISEASE
>U.N. EXPERTS WARN FARM BREEDS DYING OUT
>A 769-page World Watch List for Domestic Animal Diversity was
>released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture
>Organization (FAO). The list contained the results of a
>survey of 3,882 breeds of 28 species of mostly farm animals.
>Of the 3,882 breeds, 873 were classified as "at risk,"
>meaning fewer than 1,000 females or 20 breeding males exist.
>"The goal...was to assess the importance of biodiversity to
>humankind and point out how we are losing biodiversity at a
>truly alarming rate," said R.T. Watson, project chairman and
>an associate director at the White House Office of Science
>and Technology Policy. Experts worry most that farmers will
>have a shrinking pool of breeds to draw on to keep up with
>changing soil conditions, pests and new diseases.
>The trend was documented in Europe, where 43 percent of
>domestic animal breeds were found to be at risk. In North
>America, the report said "the continued drive towards
>intensification and specialisation has resulted in the
>increased reliance on a smaller number of breeds to meet the
>demand for food."
>Sullivan, Walter, "Many Farm Animal Breeds Risk Extinction,
>U.N. Expert Says," NEW YORK TIMES, December 7, 1995; Tansey,
>Geoff, "Extinction Looms for Farm Animal Species," FINANCIAL
>TIMES, December 7, 1995.
>RULES EASED FOR DRUG BIOTECHNOLOGY
>President Clinton signed into law in November a bill that
>amends a section of the U.S. Code on patents by adding
>language that says that a familiar biotechnological process
>can be considered novel if it uses or produces a novel
>material. Biotech companies frequently use common genetic
>engineering techniques to produce naturally-occurring
>proteins. In the past, companies haven't always been able to
>patent the entire process of using a particular gene in a
>cell line to produce a product.
>On November 9, the United States Food and Drug Administration
>(FDA) eliminated certain restrictions on drugs made by
>biotechnology companies. The new plan came as Congress was
>preparing to overhaul the FDA because of criticisms that the
>agency takes too long to approve new therapies, although the
>General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress
>has shown that the FDA was approving drugs in half the time
>as it did six years ago. Some of the changes in the rules
>include: 1,311 biotech companies in the U.S. will no longer
>need to obtain special licenses to operate manufacturing
>plants; the FDA will no longer examine each lot of a drug
>before it is sold; the FDA will respond within 30 days to new
>information submitted after it stops a clinical trial for
>safety questions; and the 21 application forms will be
>consolidated into one.
>"New Biotech Law Shores Up U.S. Firms," SCIENCE, November 3,
>1995; "F.D.A. is Lifting Special Limits Aimed at
>Biotechnology Drugs," NEW YORK TIMES, November 10, 1995.
>BRAZIL-CUBA BIOTECH DEAL; NEW PROPOSAL FOR BRAZIL'S PATENT
>Local groups in northern Brazil hope to supply plant
>materials to Cuba, which is prepared to offer a better deal
>than the U.S. The first joint project is a plant medicine
>that could possibly cure diabetes. Dr. Celerino Carriconde,
>head of the Northeast Popular Medicine Centre in Brazil, says
>that the transnational drug companies are making too much
>profit supplying insulin to be interested in a cure for
>diabetes. Cuba is one of the most advanced countries in
>biotechnology and some aspects of pharmaceuticals.
>Because the Amazon rainforest is probably the richest source
>of new medicines, the United States is anxious for Brazil to
>pass patent laws giving rights to U.S. companies On December
>7, the Brazilian Constitution and Justice Commission
>unanimously approved proposed new language for legislation
>amending their patents law that is consistent with the GATT
>TRIPs agreement but stops short of U.S. demands. It
>explicitly excludes the patenting of whole or parts of plants
>and animals except microorganisms, eliminates approval of
>patent applications in the "pipeline" before the law is
>finally passed, requires local production after 3 years and
>allows some compulsory licenses, provides a 5-year
>transition, and requires a court decision to reverse the
>burden of proof. This proposal joins others now before the
>Congress, which will probably vote on a final version in
>March or April 1996.
>"Taking on the Biopirates," AFRICAN AGENDA, Vol. 1 No. 7;
>Hathaway, David, "Patent Bill in Brazil: Background and
>Latest Legislative Developments," December 9, 1995.
>INDIA GOVERNMENT DEFERS VOTING ON PATENT BILL
>The ruling Congress in India, which opened for the winter in
>late November, has deferred voting on a bill seeking
>amendments to the 1970 Indian Patents Act. Political
>observers say the law will get little support because the
>parties in Parliament agree it will hurt national economic
>interests. Suman Sahai, a well known anti-GATT campaigner,
>says that India's proposed new patents law lacks an important
>provision of the Argentine law which, in order to prevent
>monopolies, automatically grants a license to local companies
>that want to make the same drug as a foreign patent holder.
>"India: Government Gets Cold Feet on Patents Bill," SUNS,
>November 29, 1995.
>U.S. RELEASES LIST OF COUNTRIES ABUSING IPRS
>In November, U.S. Trade Representative Micky Kantor said
>Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Greece, the United Arab Emirates and
>South Africa still allow piracy of U.S. intellectual property
>such as videocassettes. The countries will remain on the list
>of worst offenders and face more pressure to stop the abuses.
>Under the Special 301 trade law, the U.S. releases a list of
>nations that are the worst offenders each April. Kantor took
>the law a step further and released a mid-term progress
>Wright, Gregory, "Kantor Releases List of Countries That
>Abuse U.S. Property Rights," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, November 14,
>EU CONFERENCE NOT EXPECTED TO CHANGE GROWTH HORMONE POLICY
>The U.S. expects that the European Union (EU), despite a
>scientific conference in Brussels earlier this month, will
>delay taking action to change its policy against importing
>meat from animals treated with growth hormones. The ban
>prevents $100 million in U.S. sales of red meat in Europe
>each year. The U.S. has threatened to request a World Trade
>Organization dispute settlement panel to investigate the
>legality of the EU policy if no resolution is found,
>predicted by some U.S. interests to be as early as the
>beginning of 1996. The Codex Alimentarius Commission in Rome
>recently established maximum residue levels (MRLs) for five
>growth promotants used by the U.S. beef industry. The WTO
>said it would respect the MRLs when ruling on trade disputes.
>Carlson, Gordon S., "EU Growth Hormone Conference Not
>Expected to Result in Policy Change," FEEDSTUFFS, December
>UNIFORM POSITION ON IPRS FOR U.S. AND EU?
>At a December 3 summit in Madrid, the EU and U.S. identified
>as a priority closer scientific and technological
>cooperation, which "will depend on who owns the results,"
>reported Anne Wilkinson, a negotiator in the external
>relations directorate-general of the European Community.
>According to EU guidelines, intellectual property rights
>(IPR) must be agreed upon before EU-funded research can
>begin, to avoid the influence of vested interests. Economic
>constraints have focused such international cooperation
>negotiations on national benefits, said Wilkinson, arising
>from new or increased market opportunities and revenues from
>product licenses. A "uniform negotiating position on IPR has
>to be flexible enough to address current and particular
>preoccupations as well as confirming the general approach of
>the external relations policy to which it contributes."
>Wilkinson, Anne, "Plan for Sharing the Benefits of Research,"
>FINANCIAL TIMES, December 5, 1995.
>RICE GENETICALLY ALTERED TO RESIST DISEASE
>Researchers at the University of California-Davis (UC-Davis),
>led by Dr. Pamela Ronald, have genetically engineered rice to
>resist leaf blight. Rice is the world's largest food source,
>and leaf blight is a major killer of rice crops in parts of
>Asia and Africa. The newly discovered naturally resistant
>gene, Xa21, is being put into a rice line that lacks it. The
>research was funded by government agencies and nonprofit
>organizations which plan to give the technology free to
>developing countries. UC-Davis is considering commercializing
>the discovery in the United States if the technology could be
>applied to other crops in the U.S. and industrialized world.
>Rundle, Rhonda L., "Rice, Food Source for Half the World, Is
>Genetically Altered to Resist Disease," WALL STREET JOURNAL,
>December 15, 1995.
>"Genetically Modified Organisms: A Guide to Biosafety," by
>he Secretariat of the U.N. Industrial Development
>Organization in cooperation with the International Centre for
>Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Vienna, Austria.
>Contact: University of AZ Press, 1230 N. Park Ave., Tucson,
>Intellectual Property and Biodiversity News is produced by
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>President. Editor: Jean Carruthers. Electronic mail
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