Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

Ambassador Dacio Castillo (Honduras)
Bolivia, Plurinational State of
5.8. The representative of the Plurinational State of Bolivia said that the review of the provisions of Article 27.3(b) had been pending since the entry into force of the TRIPS Agreement in 1995. The Agreement clearly stated that this Article "shall be reviewed four years after the date of entry into force of the WTO Agreement". The review of Article 27.3(b) was also an issue within the mandate of the Doha Work Programme under paragraph 19 of the 2001 Doha Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN(01)/DEC/1). That review was also an outstanding implementation-related issue pursuant to paragraph 12 of the Ministerial Declaration. Paragraph 12 referred to the adoption of the Decision on Implementation-Related Issues and Concerns (WT/MIN(01)/17) to address a number of implementation problems faced by Members. It also clearly stated that the "negotiations on outstanding implementation issues shall be an integral part of the Work Programme". 5.9. Over the years, various submissions and proposals had been tabled on the review of Article 27.3(b). They had raised a number of significant concerns such as the need to amend or clarify Article 27.3(b) to prohibit the patenting of all life forms, and the need to protect farmers' rights, genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional practices in developing countries. The African Group, for example, had made two submissions, one in 2000 (IP/C/W/206) and another entitled "Taking forward the review of Article 27.3(b)" in 2003 (IP/C/W/404). The LDCs had also made a submission in October 2001. All those submissions, including the two made by Bolivia in 2010 and 2011, reflected the need for a more in-depth analysis of the implications and effects of authorizing the patenting of life forms and parts thereof, as permitted under Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement. Unfortunately, such an analysis had never been carried out as thoroughly and seriously as it should have been given the importance of that issue. 5.10. The adoption of Article 27.3(b) marked the start of a race to patent microorganisms, genes, plants, seeds, cells and biochemical components, and today those patents fell under the monopoly of a small number of multinational corporations. In agriculture, for example, a small group of multinational corporations (six) controlled 77% of climate change-resistant patents, which should be a cause for concern given the implications in terms of food security and sovereignty. 5.11. At a number of previous meetings, Bolivia had emphasized various points that needed to be addressed, including the ethical and moral implications of allowing the commercialization and privatization of life itself, the danger of allowing patents for resources of such fundamental importance to the future of mankind to lie in a small number of private hands, the negative impact on innovation and access which was becoming ever more apparent and, last but not least, the awarding of patents for gene discovery where genes had merely been isolated and were clearly not inventions, a practice that contradicted the very foundations of the patent system and made such patents highly questionable. He said that patents on life forms and parts thereof could not be treated like patents in other areas of science and technology, due to the implications and effects, a detailed analysis of which had yet to be carried out by the Membership. 5.12. Lastly, he supported the proposal made by China and Ecuador on requesting the Secretariat to update the documents relating to the three agenda items. He also supported the proposal to invite WIPO to report to the Council on the work in the WIPO IGC.