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Home arrow Research Projects arrow IP9 - Biotechnology arrow Project Description
Project Description Print

With a view to rendering the various and emerging components of international regulation of biotechnology more coherent and to developing appropriate framework conditions within WTO law, the project will pursue the following objectives:

  • Identify the relevant human rights values applicable to the field of genetic engineering (including human dignity, food security, food safety and the right to health in existing and potential instruments).
  • Analyse existing regulations on intellectual property and competition in light of the values identified and, if necessary, reshape rules and their application, in particular in the field of patent law and other forms of intellectual property protection.
  • Analyse existing regulations in the field of non-tariff barriers in GATT, sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) and technical barriers to trade (TBT) in relation to genetic engineering and seek to develop appropriate disciplines and criteria for risk assessment and risk management.
  • Identify, for genetic engineering as it relates to trade regulation, appropriate levels of governance (global, regional or domestic) and seek to develop new procedural approaches to cover approval, protection and trade of genetically modified products.

The project will first undertake a stocktaking and then proceed to address the three objectives in three different and interdisciplinary research efforts, taking into account ethics, economics and law. The project has implications for almost all the other IPs and research will be undertaken in consultation in particular with IP4 (Human Rights) and IP5 (Agriculture).

Focus of Individual Researchers

Thomas Cottier
Project Leader: Project supervision.

Susette Biber-Klemm
Alternate Leader:

Susette is researching trade issues regarding animal and plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, with a focus on North–South trade relations. Her work will include ethical and human rights perspectives.

Sufian Jusoh
Doctoral Student:

Sufian's current research focus is liability and redress in biotechnology. He is also interested in research exemption and competition issues in relation to intellectual property. Sufian sits on the Ad Hoc Expert Group on Biofuel at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) where his interest lies in the intellectual property aspect of biofuel technology development. From the WTO law perspective, Sufian's interest is in the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) and the regulation of biotechnology in developing countries.

Michelangelo Temmerman
Doctoral Student:

Focusing mainly on the patentability of biotechnological inventions, Michelangelo is writing his PhD on issues surrounding the patenting of animal genetic inventions. In parallel with these studies, he is currently working on a joint paper with IP9 analysing the ‘Research Exemption in Patent Law’ and is writing a paper on the Novartis v. India case. Furthermore, Michelangelo is finishing a joint paper with Baris Karapinar (IP5) entitled “Pro-poor Technology Development, Public-private Partnerships and Intellectual Property Rights”. Finally, he is involved in Chapter III of the International Law Association report on the ‘International Law on Biotechnology’ and has been working on the issue of prior informed consent to patenting in relation to human rights.

SNF - Swiss National Science Foundation The National Centres of Competence in Research are a research instrument of the Swiss National Science Foundation