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FTAs: Trading away traditional knowledge
New from GRAIN
09 March 2006
FTAs: Trading away traditional knowledge
by GRAIN in collaboration with Dr Silvia Rodríguez Cervantes
In the last couple of years, bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) have become immensely popular with governments disillusioned by the slow pace of trade liberalisation talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). At present there are over 200 FTA negotiating processes under way across the globe. While ostensibly aimed at breaking down trade barriers, these agreements are increasingly targeting indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ traditional knowledge in very real ways.
Traditional knowledge has come up in a dozen or so FTA drafting processes over the last couple of years. In half of those cases, specific provisions on traditional knowledge were signed. The pattern at play is simple. When facing the US, trade negotiators concerned about "biopiracy" try to put limits on when and how researchers and corporations can get patents on biodiversity or traditional knowledge in the United States. When the US is not involved in the trade deal, they carve out space to define their own legal systems of "rights" to traditional knowledge. In all cases, however, these FTAs are framing traditional knowledge as intellectual property - a commodity to be bought and sold.
With no consensus on how to "protect" traditional knowledge at the international level, much less in each of these FTA-negotiating countries, governments are fast committing themselves to a one-track approach through these trade pacts: traditional knowledge as a commodity to be bought and sold under the conventional rules of exclusive private property.
This 16-page briefing is available from GRAIN at http://www.grain.org/briefings/?id=196.
A Spanish translation will be available shortly.
1 Oct: Public debate on FTAs in Casablanca (Morocco) - contact
8 Oct: mobilisation in Luxembourg against CETA - contact
8-15 oct: October of resistance against TTIP and CETA in Spain - contact
15 Oct: mobilisation in Paris against CETA - contact
10-15 Oct: regional week of action against RCEP in Asia-Pacific
27-28 Oct: mobilisation in Brussels against CETA - contact
Any edits, please contact us
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23-Sep-2016 TeleSurDozens of Indigenous people in Peru have been absolved of accusations that they were responsible for a massacre seven years ago that killed at least 32 people, due to intense conflict triggered by the country’s free trade agreements.
22-Sep-2016 CADTMIl est urgent de lever le silence qui entoure cette question dans notre pays et de présenter des éléments de réflexion critique et de débat sur ce sujet
21-Sep-2016 El EconomistaMiles de personas se manifestaron hoy (20-9) en el barrio europeo de Bruselas contra el TTIP y el pacto comercial ya cerrado con Canadá (conocido por CETA), aún pendiente de ratificación.
21-Sep-2016 EurActivThousands of protesters marched through Brussels to demand the European Union abandon planned transatlantic free trade deals.
21-Sep-2016 Le MondePlusieurs milliers de personnes manifestaient à Bruxelles pour dénoncer le traité de libre-échange transatlantique que l’UE négocie avec les Etats-Unis (TTIP) et son équivalent avec le Canada (CETA).
19-Sep-2016 La VanguardiaLas protestas estuvieron marcadas por el ambiente festivo y por la demanda de un “comercio mundial justo”
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