Intellectual Property Rights

5 August 1995

The 26th Triennial Congress of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, August 1-6, 1995 in Helsinki, Finland:

The 26th International WILPF Congress is deeply concerned the Article 26.5.3b of the TRIPS clause in the Final Agreement of the Uruguay Round of the GATT allows for the obligatory patenting of micro‐origins.

While this Article appears to be an agreement on the exclusion of living organisms from patentability by stating that “plants and animals other than micro‐organisms and essentially biological processes for production of plants or animals other than non‐biological and micro‐biological processes”, recent judgments and interpretations say otherwise.

This phrase is interpreted to mean that genes, cell ‐lines, etc., are considered micro‐ organisms and genetic engineering is not considered a biological process, which therefore allows for the patenting of genes, cell‐lines, and genetically engineered organisms, plants and animals. It also allows parts of plants and animals and altered plans and animals to be patented.

The patenting of life forms is already allowed in the USA and the GATT agreement requires member countries of WTO to change and harmonize their patent laws to make it consistent with the TRIPS clause of GATT.

Allowing the TRIPS clause only recognizes as innovation that which is done by industry and laboratories, and denies the creativity and innovation of indigenous peoples, women, farmers and nature.

The patenting of life forms leads to the privatization and commodification of biological diversity and genetic resources from plants, animals and human beings, and facilitates the appropriation of these by agribusiness corporations, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology corporations, and individuals.

Genetic engineering is also being used to produce weapons for biological warfare.

For these reasons, WILPF shall

a. actively participate in the ongoing campaigns against patenting of life forms and the demand for compulsory labeling of genetically‐engineered foods and products;

b. demand that the WTO allow countries not to patent life forms through intellectual property rights laws if they so desire.

c. support the campaigns and struggles of indigenous peoples, farmers and women against the appropriation of their indigenous seeds, medicinal plants and indigenous knowledge;

d. consider the monitoring and lobbying of WTO as one of its activities, especially because of the implications of WTO for world peace.