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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.
Upcoming days of action
Oct to Nov: autumn of action against CETA in Europe incl. Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Netherland, Slovenia, Spain... - details
27-28 Oct: mobilisation in Brussels against CETA - contact
03-05 Nov: mobilisation in Brussels against TTIP - contact
4 Nov: Continental day for democracy and against FTAs & neoliberalism in Latin America - contact
Any edits, please contact us
News from the movements
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20-Oct-2016 CEOA close look at the controversial EU-Canada trade deal shows that concerns blocking its ratification are well-founded.
19-Oct-2016 Telesur“We don’t want what happened to us to happen to the people in Dakota,” Piaguaje told teleSUR.
18-Oct-2016 Peoples WorldIn protests billed as “anti-colonial” demonstrations, Peruvians hit the streets on 12 October against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement
17-Oct-2016 No al TTIPEn el marco de una semana repleta de protestas para detener la aprobación del tratado de libre comercio entre la Unión Europea y Estados Unidos (TTIP) y la ratificación del CETA (el acuerdo de la Unión Europea con Canadá), la plataforma estatal ‘No al TTIP’ ha movilizado este sábado a miles de personas a lo largo de la geografía española y muy especialmente en la capital de España.
17-Oct-2016 Stop TTIPOver 100 law professors from across Europe have come together to send a clear message to EU decision makers demanding the investor protection mechanisms be excluded from TTIP and CETA.
17-Oct-2016 The Jakarta PostAn activist group is calling on the government to not ratify the ASEAN Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) clause on International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) 1991, saying that it will increase global corporations’ monopolistic control over small farmers.
bilaterals.org is a collaborative space to share information and support movements struggling against bilateral trade and investment deals which serve corporations, not people. Multilingual. Global. No one owns it. Open publishing. Get involved.