A developing country perspective on recent developments in animal breeding and intellectual property rights

Author: M.M. Scholtz and J. Mamabolo
Year: 2006
Issue: 5
Volume: 36
Page: 22 - 25

Animal breeding and genetics have changed markedly, resembling those that have already taken place in the plant sector. These changes are going to be larger with sequenced genomes, transgenic livestock and cloned animals. Animal scientists have now started to protect their intellectual property and these protective measures have alarmed other scientists and the public. The challenge for developing countries is to guard against bio-piracy of their indigenous animal genetic resources, and to safeguard technologies that they have been using. A second concern is the export of genetic material to countries that did not ratify the Convention on Biodiversity. The first operational conflict resulted from a patent on a “Method of Bovine Herd Management†. The patent claims rights to a practice that has been public knowledge for nearly 100 years. The novel idea within the patent is the specific mathematical model and procedures developed for analysis of test day yields. Monsanto has recently applied for a series of patents on pig breeding in some 160 countries, whereas researchers in New Zealand and Australia obtained a patent for the Booroola gene. The east African Boran cattle breed has also been patented in Australia. Currently developing countries risk losing their intellectual property on indigenous livestock while research institutions require a stable regulatory framework in which to operate. There should be a balance between the needs of developed and developing countries and interim measures should be put in place in anticipation of the development of a legal framework on animal genetic resources.

Keywords: animal breeders’ rights, animal genetic resources, intellectual property
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