HONG KONG (CHINA), December 15, 2005 — Trade campaigners warned today that another battle over the highly controversial WTO agreement known as TRIPS (‘Trade-related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights’) is gathering momentum because of the ways the agreement undermines farmers’, Indigenous Peoples’ and communities’ rights.

Media Advisory
Friends of the Earth International

“The TRIPs agreement undermines basic human rights by allowing large biotechnology companies to “buy” and patent the seeds, crops, medicines and traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and local communities,” said in Hong Kong Friends of the Earth International Trade Campaigner Alberto Villarreal from Uruguay.
TRIPS obliges the 149 WTO member countries to protect intellectual property rights (IPRs) relating to pl ant varieties and micro biological processes, using patents and other similar IPR systems.
“In addition to privatizing and commercializing the resources and knowledge which form part of the heritage of communities and Indigenous Peoples, TRIPs has led to a further marginalization of these communities,” added Friends of the Earth International Trade Campaigner Alberto Villarreal.
TRIPs is yet another example of the many ways in which WTO rules prevent the development of fair and sustainable societies. TRIPS furthers biopiracy, the privatization and unauthorized use of biological resources by entities such as corporations. Women are particularly impacted, as they are often responsible for collecting food and medicinal resources for their families and play a major role in traditional seed saving systems.
African governments, Indigenous Peoples and NGOs have long argued that the benefi ts of biodiversity and related traditional knowledge cannot be shared in a fair and equitable manner as long as the current TRIPs agreement obliges countries to impose patents (or other rigid intellectual property rights systems) on life forms.

For more information contact Friends of the Earth International in Hong Kong:
Alberto Villarreal Friends of the Earth International Trade Campaign (Spanish, English) +852 6127 0200 (Dec. 15-19) or comercioredes@gmail.com
David Waskow, Friends of the Earth International Trade Campaign (Dec. 15-19) +852 6127 8644 or dwaskow@foe.org
Simone Lovera, Friends of the Earth International biodiversity project coordinator (Dutch, English, Spanish) +852-61257897 (Dec. 15-19) or simone@foei.org

[1] Negotiations on the conflict between TRIPS and the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity will continue in January at the UN.