Genetic Resources Policies Course

This online course was developed by Robin Pistorius and Niels Louwaars of Wageningen University and Research Centre of the Netherlands,  with technical support from the Network University (Amsterdam) and valuable input on the content from Shawn Sullivan - GCP's Legal Advisor.

The course introduces scientists to issues of intellectual property, access and benefit-sharing at a basic level – but in enough detail to enable them understand the impact of the relevant rights systems on their projects and the implications of the use of certain materials and research tools on the availability of the output of their work to the target groups. It enables participants to understand the reach and use of existing international treaties and conventions, as well as national regulations, in the context of the dynamic new technologies they apply, notably comparative genomics, molecular breeding, and bioinformatics, in addition to those related to germplasm.

The course explicitly assesses the practical implications of different forms of regulation on the day-to-day reality of individual researchers working on genetic resources and plant improvement through three primary objectives:

  1. To help scientists understand the importance of international treaties, conventions, protocols and other  legal and regulatory provisions  on the rights to use plant genetic resources and tools, methods and products protected by intellectual property rights.
  2. To enhance the scientists’ basic knowledge of these treaties, conventions, protocols and other legal and regulatory provisions in relation to different scientific areas.
  3. To create awareness of the existence of limitations to Freedom to Operate based on international policies and national regulations, especially given that the products of research have should be freely available to resource-poor farmers.

The knowledge gained from this course will allow the scientists to better communicate with specialists in this field (institutional lawyers, technology transfer specialists, regulatory authorities, etc); to include the regulatory issues in technology transfer plans; to analyse the possible ownership issues in their own research using existing tools and explore possible alternatives; and to better assess options for Freedom to Operate.

Though developed for use at a particular time with a particular group (as reflected in its language), the substance of the course remains valid and relevant and all scientists are encouraged to take it. To access this learning resource click on Genetic Resources Policies Course.

For more information and help with Intellectual Property and Policy issues,or comments on this course, contact Larry Butler or Fred Okono.

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