Concerns of developing nations

Developing nations underscored several factors necessitating a national regime for PVP rather than adopting a system similar to the protection prevalent in developed nations. First, in developing nations agriculture has a close nexus with the national economy. Compared with developed nations, the agricultural population is higher in developing nations. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates the agricultural population for 2000 in developed nations at 99,752,000 against a population of 2,473,704,000 in developing nations and 467,339,000 in least-developed nations (Agricultural Data, 2004). Agriculture employs >70% of the labour force in low-income countries, 30% in middle-income countries and only 4% in high-income countries (UNCTAD, 1999). Thus, agriculture remains the main source of income for the general population in low-income countries. The augmented agricultural population in developing countries increases the economy's dependency on agriculture. Between 1990 and 1996, the agricultural contribution of the gross domestic product (GDP) was on average 34% for low-income countries as compared with 8% for upper middle-income countries, and 1.5% for the high-income countries of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (Negotiations on WTO Agreement, 2001). Economic surveys from Kenya demonstrate the nexus between agriculture and the national economy; the GDP and agricultural growth in Kenya were, respectively, 3.0% and 2.8% in 1993/94; 4.6% and 4.4% in 1995/96; and 1.8% and 1.5% in 1997/98 (N'gera, 2003). The economic dependence differentiates the agricultural sectors of developing nations from those of the developed nations. The differences include smaller landholdings and labour-intensive agricultural practices (Negotiations on WTO Agreement, 2001). A majority of farmers in countries like India practise subsistence land farming, and only marginally participate in international trade. Developing nations opine that the distinguishing features of agriculture and its impact on their economies necessitate prioritization of national goals when introducing PBRs.

Second, developing nations are sceptical of the inevitable process of privatization that results from PVP. In advocating PBRs, the TRIPS objective is to increase innovation in plant breeding through private investments. Developed nations, particularly the USA and Japan, outline PBRs' ability to increase private research and development (R&D) investments that can lead to improved varietal diversity. Developed nations argue that increased research in agriculture can benefit the food shortage issues of developing nations. Hence, these nations tout PBRs' ability to improve agricultural production. Developing nations, however, outline a range of issues that can emanate from privatization. These issues range from social and economic factors to the impact of privatization on biodiversity. In particular, developing nations reflect the concerns portrayed in the following subsections.

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