Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Agreement: Impact on Food Security of the people living in HKH (PB-17)

Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Agreement: Impact on Food Security of the people living in HKH (PB-17)

Publication details

  • Wednesday | 01 Jan, 2003
  • Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Syed Qasim Ali Shah
  • Policy Briefs/Papers
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Abid Qaiyum Suleri and Qasim Shah 2003 Abstract Pakistan’s part of Hindu Kush Himalyan (HKH) region comprises more than 50 percent of the total area of the country and 21.32% of total population. As many as 31.13 million people live in HKH. The region faces shortage of staple foods due to low local production, high transport cost and restricted access to food in many areas during snow season. Food security of the people living in HKH is not only affected by limited patches of flat land and extreme weather, it is also affected by “Trade Related intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement” of The World Trade Organization (WTO). The TRIPs agreement covers patents in articles 27-34. It says all inventions including those based on the exploitation of biological resources are patentable. Hence the agreement stands for monopoly rights even upon the life forms, ownership of seed, plant and animal varieties. The national and household food security is also affected by the TRIPs agreement. Moreover, this agreement promotes “bio-piracy” in the resource rich HKH region as it does not require the patent holder to either disclose the source of origin, get prior informed consent from the genetic resource/knowledge holder, or ensure that there is an equitable benefit sharing. This policy brief focuses on the impacts of the TRIPs agreement on HKH region of Pakistan and demands that nothing in the TRIPs agreement should affect the sovereignty of governments to take measures to protect their health and food security. In Pakistan, HKH spreads over parts of North Western Frontier Province (NWFP), Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), Northern Areas, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), and 12 districts of Balochistan.  In Pakistan, total HKH area comprises 489988 sq km (more than 50% of the total area of Pakistan) and 31.13 million people (21.32% of the total population) . The Hindu Kush rises South West of Pamirs. It is considered to extend from Wakhjir pass at the junction of the Pamirs and Karakoram to Khawak Pass, north of Kabul. Its first region extends from Wakhjir Pass separating Hunza from Wakhan and up to Dorah Pass (320 kms in length). Its second region lies beyond Dorah Pass in Afghanistan. The third region, which runs for 240 kms, lies in Pakistan and extends into Swat and Kohistan. On the East, it is separated from Karakoram by Indus River. Highest of Hindukush is Tirich Mir (7708). The Western Himalayas is situated between Kashmir valley in the East and Indus River in the North. It is dominated by Nanga Parbat massif with the highest peak, rising at 8125 metres.