Impacts Of IPR On Biodiversity

It is simply a tough task to offer an estimate of impacts of IPR on biodiversity. The benefits of genetic diversity are long term and rarely predictable. Humanity shares a common bowl containing only 20 cultivated crops that sustain 90% of our calorie requirements (FAO,1991). All 20 crops originate in developing countries. All are alarmingly vulnerable to pests and diseases and depend on genetic diversity for their continued survival. During this century, most authorities believe that an alarming proportion of the genetic variability of our major food plants as it is available in the field has become extinct. The conservation and development of the remaining crop diversity is a matter of vital global concern.

When farmers look to increase their sale they often sow more commercially viable seeds. Sometimes various government schemes force them to adapt specific seeds or new plant varieties. Thus commercial agriculture tends to increase genetic uniformity and this, in turn leads to genetic erosion. IP system encourages commercial agriculture that accelerates genetic erosion. Biotechnology research focuses on commercial agriculture and leads to demand for IP protection with the same potentially negative consequences for genetic diversity.

The criteria for awarding PVP (Plant Variety Protection) certificate involve lower thresholds than the standards required for patents.

Similarly, the requirements for uniformity (and stability) in UPOV type systems exclude the local varieties developed by farmers that are more heterogeneous genetically, and less stable. But actually these are the characteristics that make them more adaptable and suited to the agro -ecological environments in which the majority of poor farmers live. Another concern is the criteria for uniformity. While proponents argue that PVP, by stimulating the production of new varieties, actually increases biodiversity but in reality requirement for uniformity, and the certification of essentially similar varieties of crops, will add to uniformity of crops and loss of biodiversity. Moreover similar concerns have arisen in respect of greater uniformity arising from the success of Green Revolution Varieties, leading to greater susceptibility to disease and loss of on-field biodiversity.

In addition, the privatization of genetic resources that have been engineered and patented accelerates the trend toward monocultural cropping.

Furthermore an engineered organism may produce unanticipated harmful impacts on other species in its new environment that may cause further erosion and ecological degradation.

Improved seeds require more fertilizer and pesticide consumption, which has tremendous contribution towards biodiversity loss, and have direct impact on floral, faunal and microbial population. Moreover substantial royalties payment to the developed countries and multinational seed companies will greatly increase the debt burden that could further intensify the environmental and social disruption if we consider the debt repayment such as the export of natural products.