This paper reviews the economic aspects of the options facing developing countries in implementing intellectual property right protection for agricultural plant varieties under the WTO TRIPS agreement (Article 27(3)b). The various provisions possible in a sui generis system of plant varietal protection (PVP) are summarised, including those specified in the existing Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) treaties of 1978 and 1991. The paper then examines the limited economic research that has been conducted on the impacts of PVP and that may be of use to policy makers faced with current decisions. This review finds that the research to-date has not yet demonstrated overwhelming net benefits from PVP. The evidence so far is weakly supportive of positive contributions by PVP to agricultural productivity. The paper concludes further research on this issue is necessary given the ongoing review of the TRIPS agreement and the efforts underway in many developing countries to implement such systems. The paper also identifies some of the key topics forming a research agenda of interest for developing countries. Further research should focus on the impacts of specific provisions, in particular, that of farm-saved seed, as opposed to the effects of PVP as a whole
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