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Policy Issues in Genetically Modified Crops
2021, 3-27

Genetically Modified Crops and Agricultural Innovation: An Analysis of Law and Policy

Kshitij Kumar Singh

Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi, Delhi, India.


GM technology exhibits enormous potential to bring radical transformations in agricultural sector by enabling the production of pest resistant and insect-resistant crops, crops compatible to climate change, crops dealing with health deficiencies, and crops with high yields and less consumption of resources. However, the potential benefits promised by GM technology are seen with suspicion due to high-risk susceptibilities attached with it and a negative perception among a large segment of society. The risk perceptions about GM crops in agricultural biotechnology are not always backed by strong scientific proofs but created by diverse pressure groups having diverse interests. IP protection to GM crops remains a contentious and controversial issue around the world, given the uncertainty as to the scope of certain terms such as “microorganisms,” “essentially biological processes” and “plant varieties.” This leads to an overlapping of patent and plant variety legislations and courts find it difficult to resolve this overlapping due to technical complexity and undefined scope of aforementioned terms. Aggressive assertion of IPR by giant biotech companies and an increased proprietary enclosure of plant genetic material by them have led to the introduction of open source movement in agricultural biotechnology. Against this backdrop, the chapter undertakes an analysis of legal and policy paradigm of GM crops and its impact on agricultural innovation by examining the risk perceptions related to GM crops, structure of agricultural innovation, factors influencing policy making, IP practices and judicial trends and open bio models in agricultural biotechnology.

Keywords: GM crops, agricultural biotechnology, IPR, patents, plant variety, essentially biological process, law, policy, innovation.

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