Other international forums

Another possibility is to utilize forums outside the WTO either alone, or in conjunction with continued discussion under the WTO. The need to protect CBD goals, as well as the right to food, has already been discussed in a number of forums outside of the WTO. In addition, a few authors have specifically discussed the present or potential utility of raising these issues in multiple forums to take advantage of different political constituencies and processes for negotiation (Cullet, 2004, pp. 2 78-284; Helfer, 2004).

One possible method of addressing the benefit-sharing problem is through new international agreements under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). For example, there are current negotiations sponsored by WIPO to establish a uniform definition of what is 'new', in addition to other patent law requirements under the draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT) (WIPO, 2003; WIPO, 2004).6 The present proposed definition of 'new' would only consider an invention to be new if it was not earlier known or used anywhere in the world (Cullet, 2004, p. 2 75; WIPO, 2004). This definition is notably different from the present US definition, which excludes unprinted knowledge or use outside the USA from consideration. The USA has in fact considered amending its domestic law in the context of broader amendments to its patent laws (HR Patent Reform Act of 2005).

An additional forum for discussing some of these issues may soon lie in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Material, which came into force on 29 June 2004. This agreement is aimed at measures to enhance genetic diversity of plants, such as ensuring availability of resources for farmers and plant breeders (International Plant Treaty, 2001, art. 1). The rights under this treaty are complementary with the CBD goals, and are also governed by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), such that discussions concerning this treaty could further coalition building in any of the forums discussed earlier (Helfer, 2004, p. 41).

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