The development of high-yielding cacao varieties could lead to overproduction and jeopardize prize and stability of cacao-producing countries while shifting production from small-scale producers to large-scale plantations, the use of biotechnology to convert low-priced oils into cacao butter could drastically reduce the demand and price for cacao beans.
A Report on the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources, Rome Second Session, March 16-21, 1987
The establishment of an international fund for the conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources, participation of governments in the UN Food and Agriculture Organizations International undertaking to promote full exchange of genetic resources, and the establishment of an international system of gene banks under FAO auspices.
Issue: The use of biotechnology to produce the intensely sweet thaumatin protein.
Plant: Thaumatin is derived from a fruit of a West-African rain forest shrub.
Countries affected: Product will be marketed as a low-calorie sweetener in Europe, Japan, USA
Impact: In combination with other newly developed sweeteners, these products offer the potential to erode traditional sugar markets
Issue: Natural vanilla production via tissue culture technology.
Crop: Vanilla planifolia - the commercially important species of Vanilla orchis
Countries affected: Madagascar, Comoros islands, Reunion, Indonesia
Impact: possible loss of $67 million in annual export earnings.
Product: Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) or Bovine Somatotropin (BST)
Purpose: Designed to dramatically increase milk production in dairy cattle
Counties affected: USA and Europe initially
Impact: Drop in milk prices, loss of 25-30% of dairy farmers, changes in cropping patterns, narrowing of genetic base of dairy cattle
Issue: Replacement of major cash crop (Gum Arabic)
Countries affected: Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and others
Impact: Possible loss of $ 60 million in annual export earnings and seasonal employment
New starch-based substitutes for gum arabic and other water soluble gums threaten to replace a major portion of gum exports from several African countries.
A public row over the notorious US patent on the medicinal plant ayahuasca has broken out between COICA, the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples' Organizations of the Amazon Basin, and the US government's Inter-American Foundation (IAF). In correspondence made public on the internet by COICA on March 4th, IAF has demanded COICA disavow a 1996 resolution approved by Amazonian indigenous peoples' organizations from 9 countries, that condemns the US plant patent (#PP5751) held by the International Plant Medicine Corporation (IPMC). IAF has further threatened to withdraw funding from groups that don't heed its command.
Canada is holding the line on life patenting. Bucking patent trends in the USA and Europe, Canada's Federal Court ruled last week that Harvard's "oncomouse" is not patentable under Canadian law.
On August 4, 1995 Canada's Commissioner of Patents ruled that Harvard University's genetically altered mice were not patentable in Canada. The President and Fellows of Harvard appealed that decision to Canada's Federal Court. On April 21, 1998, the Federal Court ruled against Harvard, and dismissed the appeal
The (Merchant) Prince and the (Punjabi) Paupers
A U.S. rice patent has the potential to make Europe's Hans-Adam II "heir apparent" to South Asia's Basmati rice and its famous name. The Liechtenstein Prince's dreams of empire may be decided in a Texas law court.
Delta and Pine Land Co. (Mississippi, USA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that they received US Patent No. 5,723,765 on a new genetic technology designed to prevent unauthorized seed saving by farmers. The patented technology, Control of plant gene expression" would allow seed companies to control the viability of progeny seed without harming the crop. In other words, the new technology genetically alters the seed so that it will not germinate if re-planted a second time.
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