Keywords: Mexico, intellectual property protection (IPP), plant biotechnology, scientific-technological capacity, science and technology policies, economic development, public-private links, biodiversity and IPP
Intellectual property protection and capacity building in Mexican plant biotechnology
Mexico's intellectual property protection (IPP) legislation has been radically reformed on the premise that this would facilitate foreign investment and the transfer of technology, both of which were considered necessary to modernise the economy. It was assumed that stronger IPP would also stimulate Mexico's own scientific-technological capacity both in the private and the public sector. This assumption is examined by tracing the development of plant biotechnology in the context of science and technology policies, looking at the number and origin of patents applied for in this field between 1991 and 1994 and analysing two outstanding Mexican public plant biotechnology research institutions (CINVESTAV and CICY). It is concluded that while the introduction of stronger IPP was necessary, it has so far failed to boost Mexico's public plant biotechnology capacity. With one notable exception, Mexico's private seed companies have been slow to respond and those who stand most to gain are the multinational companies.