The EU Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol to the Biodiversity Convention: A Game Changer or Institutional Paralysis?
Unimproved germplasm, the way found in nature, and landraces cultivated by farmers around the world for years, were, till the adoption of the Biodiversity Convention, a free access resource. Improved germplasm, by breeding or bio-engineering, on the other hand, is often protected by patents or other sui generis intellectual property rights (IPRs). The power of the seed industry, the industry that has acquired IPRs over most of the improved germplasm, has increased dramatically. Five big companies, Syngenta (owned by ChemChina), Bayer (Germany), Corteva (US, a spinoff of DowDuPont) and BASF (Germany) control a sizeable piece of the total seed market and 90 percent of the agrochemical market. The oligopolistic nature of the seed industry makes improved germplasm often prohibitively expensive for the farmers of the developing countries.