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Intellectual Property and the Life Sciences: Agriculture, Health and Trade Conference

Opened by Emeritus Professor John Lovett, Managing Director, Grains Research and Development Corporation

This conference discussed the importance of intellectual property in respect of food and agriculture. It addressed the important role played by plant breeders' rights and patent law in the commercialisation of research in the field of agricultural biotechnology. It looked at a number of recent controversies over new plants and crops with enhanced properties, GM food labelling, and biopiracy.

This forum discussed the public debate over the patenting of genes, junk DNA, research tools, and medical diagnostics. It compared and contrasted government inquiries into gene patents by the Australian Law Reform Commission and the United Kingdom Department of Health. A number of possible reforms were explored - including the introduction of new defences for researchers, the use of compulsory licensing, and the application of competition law.

This conference finally considered the impact of recent trade negotiations on agriculture and biotechnology. In particular, it focused upon the recent Australia-United States Free Trade AgreementThe 5th WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun, Mexico and the Food and Agriculture Organization's Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources.

Speakers:
Professor Anne Finlay, Commissioner, Australian Law Reform Commission
The Australian Law Reform Commission Inquiry into Patenting of Genes and Genetic Material – Some Key Issues
Dr Margaret Llewelyn, Reader in Intellectual Property Law and Deputy Director, Sheffield Institute of Biotechnology Law and Ethics, Faculty of Law, The University of Sheffield
Intellectual Property Rights on Public Healthcare: A UK Response
Dr Peter Stearne, Patent Attorney, Davies Collison Cave
Creativity, Co-existence and Confusion: Intellectual Property and its Interface with Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Foods
Dr Lee Ann Jackson, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for International Economic Studies, School of Economics, University of Adelaide
GMOs, Product Definition, and International Trade
Professor Ross Garnaut, Professor of Economics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University
Trading Blows: On the Damage Done by the Collapse of the Cancun Trade Talks
Dr Charles Lawson, Research Fellow, Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture, Griffith University
Food and Agriculture Organization Agreement on Plant Genetic Resources
Ms Elizabeth Evans-Illidge, Head of Marine Biology and Ecology Project, Australian Institute for Marine Science
Marine Biodiscovery Research
Dr Dianne Nicol, Lecturer, Centre for Law and Genetics, Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania
Bioprospecting in Antarctica