Keywords: biotechnology, GMOs, biosafety, PVP, IPR, sui generis, essentially derived varieties (EDV), Thailand
Biotechnology: legal and other issues in a Thailand experience
Recognising the potential of biotechnology to affect a broad spectrum of industry, Thailand established the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) in 1983. The main mandate of BIOTEC is to promote and support research and development with careful planning and prioritisation. The ultimate goal is to fulfil its potential to commercialise the end-products or research results. Biotechnology has been rapidly developed and at present has potential uses in improving productivity in agriculture as well as in other industrial sectors. The improved products from recombinant DNA technology, containing novel genes, could not be accomplished through traditional technologies. These living modified organisms (LMOs) are of specific uses in various industries, but they may have possible adverse effects on human and animal health as well as on the environment as a whole. Therefore, biosafety has been an important issue in the Convention on Biological Diversity. Thailand has joined other countries in the region developing its own biosafety guidelines implemented since 1993. At this stage, it is quite crucial that an intellectual property rights (IPR) system be established in order to stimulate more research and development. A few developing countries, including Thailand have tried to develop their own intellectual property systems, including the "Plant Variety Protection" (PVP) system. This paper gives an account of the various efforts in this area by Thailand and analyses their strengths and weaknesses.