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  ---------- Forwarded message ----------
  Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 18:46:03 -0700
  From: Kristin Dawkins <kdawkins@iatp.org>
  30 June 1997
  Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State
  United States Department of State
  Washington, D.C. 20520
  BY FAX: (202) 647-0122, 647-7120
  Dear Secretary Albright,
  We the undersigned, from all over the world, are writing to express our
  concern at the manner in which the United States government is intervening
  in the domestic affairs of numerous other nations regarding their
  intellectual property laws. The ability of a nation to develop its laws is
  a sovereign and inalienable right; indeed, it is one which the United
  States Congress absolutely defends for itself. 
  Whereas it is true that many nations are presently adopting new legislation
  to develop their intellectual property laws in ways consistent with various
  international agreements to which they subscribe, it is not true that it is
  the United States’ responsibility nor its right to interfere with their
  national democratic processes for doing so. 
  Furthermore, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual
  Property Rights (TRIPs) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is not the
  only international agreement with which nations may wish to conform. 
  The Convention on Biological Diversity, which the U.S. has yet to ratify,
  stipulates that parties cooperate to ensure that intellectual property
  rights "are supportive of and do not run counter to" the objectives of the
  convention: namely, the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity,
  and the equitable sharing of its benefits. This convention also obligates
  the parties, subject to their national law, to "respect, preserve and
  maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local
  The International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources of the United
  Nations Food and Agriculture Organization  (FAO) provides for "Farmers
  Rights." It  recognizes farmers as innovators entitled to intellectual
  integrity and access to the germplasm and technologies they have developed
  collectively over many generations. 
  Each of these is an international agreement in which negotiators have
  balanced the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights of the
  WTO with the community-related aspects of humanity’s intellectual heritage. 
  Please note, also, that the TRIPs Agreement allows each WTO member much
  discretion in formulating its domestic law to best serve the public
  interest. It allows members to exclude from patentability "diagnostic,
  therapeutic and surgical methods for the treatment of humans and animals"
  and it allows them to exclude inventions which, if commercially exploited,
  would threaten "ordre public or morality, including to protect human,
  animal or plant life or health or to avoid serious prejudice to the
  environment." The TRIPs Agreement also gives nations the substantive
  discretion whether to provide for patents or for a "sui generis" system of
  protection for plant and animal varieties and procedural discretion
  regarding the "exhaustion of rights," permissions for "parallel imports,"
  and "other use without authorization of the Rights Holder."  
  It is legally irresponsible and morally dishonorable for the United States
  to utilize its political leadership and economic might toward influencing
  the way in which each sovereign nation and its peoples interprets these
  provisions and develops domestic policy and law to implement these several
  international agreements. 
  In light of these many considerations, we call to your attention a letter
  sent by the U.S. Department of State to the Royal Thai Government (RTG)
  regarding draft Thai legislation allowing Thai healers to register
  traditional medicines. Dated April 21, 1997, the letter advises the RTG
  that "Washington believes that such a registration system could constitute
  a possible violation of TRIPs and hamper medical research into these
  compounds" – despite the fact that Thailand is not obliged to comply with
  TRIPs until at least 2000 and medical practices may be exempted. The State
  Department letter requests a copy of the draft legislation and official
  responses to 11 questions, beginning with the question: "What is the
  relationship of the proposal to the granting of patent protection in
  Thailand?" and ending with the question: "Does the RTG envision a
  contractual system to handle relationships between Thai healers and foreign
  researchers in the future?" 
  We the undersigned believe that the U.S. letter constitutes an
  inappropriate attempt to influence Thailand’s domestic initative toward
  balancing the objectives of TRIPs, the CBD, and the International
  Undertaking. The Department of State should withdraw the letter and issue
  an apology for interfering in Thailand’s legislative prerogatives.
  Moreover, we are concerned that the questions asked in the State Department
  letter imply an interest on the part of the U.S. government to facilitate
  the transfer of traditional Thai knowledge to U.S. researchers, and their
  eventual solicitation of patents on this knowledge. In the first place, we
  do not believe any government should encourage the privatization of
  knowledge already in the public domain. In the second place, we believe the
  use of patents to commercialize and monopolize living material rests on
  ethically and environmentally unsustainable foundations.
  The letter also illustrates a fundamental contradiction in United States
  policy. On the one hand, the U.S. has insisted at meetings of the FAO
  Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture that Farmers'
  Rights are a matter of national policy, and need not be recognized at the
  international level. On the other hand, the U.S. is interfering as Thailand
  takes steps to develop national law recognizing the rights of farmers and
  local communities. 
  We have also learned recently that the United States government has
  threatened the Ecuadorian government with the cancellation of trade
  preferences if its national Congress does not ratify a bilateral agreement
  on intellectual property rights negotiated between the executive branches
  of the two countries. According to a June 1, 1997 article in Ecuador’s
  newspaper "El Universo," these threats affect some 400 products of export
  interest to the Ecuadorian economy, and the possible loss of $80 million
  worth of income from its exports to the U.S. of  uncanned tuna and fresh
  fish. We believe these commercial threats interfere in Ecuador’s domestic
  democratic process, and in any case are an inappropriate tool for reaching
  harmony in the development of international law. 
  We are well aware that the U.S. utilizes its commercial power to achieve
  its own objectives quite frequently. Ecuador is not the only target of U.S.
  trade sanctions aimed to influence other countries’ congressional or
  parliamentary processes. On March 31, the Office of the United States Trade
  Representative (USTR) released its 1997 National Trade Estimate Report on
  Foreign Trade Barriers, and added Ethiopia, Panama and Paraguay as well as
  Ecuador to its list of countries which the USTR believes limit U.S.
  commercial interests.
  Earlier this month, the U.S. Ambassador to India announced that "certain
  areas of research and training will be closed to cooperation" if India
  fails to amend its patent laws, threatening some 130 scientific projects
  presently supported by the U.S.-India Fund. The U.S. has also filed formal
  complaints with the WTO against India as well as Pakistan regarding their
  national patent laws governing pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical
  And last April, completely ignoring the WTO dispute settlement process, the
  United States unilaterally cancelled $260 million worth of Argentina’s
  trade benefits under the General System of Preferences on grounds that
  Argentina’s intellectual property laws did not comply with "international
  Nor are countries of the South the only countries to be so threatened. We
  have learned from the WTO that on May 21, the Permanent Mission of the
  United States notified the Permanent Mission of Denmark and the WTO Dispute
  Settlement Body that "Danish law would appear to be inconsistent with its
  obligations under the TRIPs Agreement" and that the U.S. was requesting
  consultations with the Government of Denmark "regarding the making
  available of provisional measures under Danish law."
  Secretary Albright, we the undersigned believe it is neither the right of
  the United States nor its responsibility to utilize its commercial power to
  influence legislative processes in other countries. By using a "might makes
  right" bludgeon, U.S. diplomacy encourages trade wars and destabilizes
  fragile economies, democracies, and ecologies. We hope that, under your
  leadership, the United States Department of State will use its influence to
  establish the U.S. position in the world community not as a power-broker
  for commercial interests but as a partner in a multilateral framework
  collaborating for human rights and peace in the 21st century.  
  We appreciate your attention, and look forward to your response. Please
  send your reply to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,
  Intellectual Property and Biodiversity Project, 2105 First Avenue South,
  Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414; or by fax: (612) 870-4846; Attention: Kristin
  Dawkins, who will in turn send it to all of the signatories. Thank you very
  Agencia Latinoamericana de Informacion (ALAI)
  Alliance of Northern People for Environment and Development
  Asia Indigenous Women’s Network
  Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC)
  Coordinacion Internacional de la Via Campesina
  European Coordination ‘No Patents on Life’ (Muenchenstein, CH)
  Friends of the Earth (FOE-International)
  Greenpeace Inernational
  Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN)
  People-Centered Development Forum
  Pesticide Action Network Asia And The Pacific (Malaysia)
  Pesticide Action Network North American Regional Center (PANNA)
  Play Fair Europe! (Germany)
  Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)
  Third World Network
  Proyecto Internacional De Catedra Virtual / Virtual Lecture International
  Australian GeneEthics Network
  The Seed Savers' Network
  Denis Brown (University of Western Australia) 
  Dick Copeman (Eco-Consumer)
  Dr. Lynette Dumble (History and Philosophy of Science, University of
  Phil Davies (Adelaide, South Australia)
  Dr Sandra McDougall (Research Entomologist, Yanco Agriculture Institute)
  Philippa Rowland, (Agricultural Scientist)
  Warrika (rose) Turner (Indigenous Australian, Adelaide)
  Dr. Adrian Walsh (Philosophy Department, University of New England)
  Tony Webb (Food Policy Analyst)
  CETAAR (Centro de Estudios Sobre Tecnologias Apropiadas de la 
  Global 2000
  Oesterreichische Bergbauernvereinigung (Member, European Farmers Coordination)
  AS-PTA (Consultants in Alternative Agriculture Projects)
  Federação de Órgãos para Assistência Social e Educacional (FASE) 
  Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas (IBASE)
  The Comissao Pro-Yanomami (CCPY)
  Francisco R Cartaxo (Grupo PESACRE - Rio Branco, AC)
  Ilidia Juras
  Carlos Tautz (Environmental/business journalist, Rio de Janeiro)
  Paulo Teixeira de Sousa Jr. (Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso, Instituto
  de Saude Coletiva, Curso de Mestrado e Doutorado em Saude e Ambiente)
  Lot Miranda (Country Director, Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS) - Cambodia
  British Columbia Biotechnology Circle 
  Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)
  Canadian Environmental Law Association
  Warren Bell, MD (British Columbia)
  Brewster  and Cathleen Kneen (Publishers, The Ram's Horn)
  Joan Russow, PhD (Co-ordinator, Global Compliance Research Project)
  Silvia Rodriguez C. (Programa CAMBIOS, Costa Rica)
  Abelardo Bombom, Presidente de la FEINE (Federacion Ecuatoriana de
  Indigenas Evangelicos)
  Elizabeth Bravo (Accion Ecologica)
  Carlos Carrera (School of Natural Resources, University of Michigan)
  Pedro de la Cruz, Presidente de la FENOCIN (Federacion Nacional de
  Organizaciones Campesino, Indigenas y Negras)
  Freddy Estrella, diputado (Pachakutik-Nuevo Pais)
  Ulbio Freire, diputado (Pachakutik-Nuevo Pais)
  Leonidas Issa, diputado (Pachakutik-Nuevo Pais)
  Miguel Lluco, diputado (Pachakutik-Nuevo Pais)
  Jorge Loor, Presidente de la CONFEUNASSC (Confederacion Unica de Afiliados
  al Seguro Social Campesino)
  Miguel Lopez, diputado (Pachakutik-Nuevo Pais)
  Luis Macas, diputado (Pachakutik-Nuevo Pais)
  Rosendo Rojas, diputado (Pachakutik-Nuevo Pais)
  Napoleon Saltos, diputado (Pachakutik-Nuevo Pais)
  Arturo Yumbay, Presidente (e) de la CONAIE (Confederacion de Nacionalidades
  Indigenas del Ecuador)
  Institute for Sustainable Development
  Damtew Teferra (Doctoral Student, Boston College, USA)
  Arnaud Poulet (Student of Biotechology, Toulouse)
  BUKO Agrocoordination (Hamburg)
  Inititative zum Verbot genmanipulierter Nahrung (Campaign to ban
  genetically engineered foods)
  Kalpavriksh -Environmental Action Group
  Public Interest Research Group (New Delhi)
  The People's Commission on Environment & Development India
  Rahul Bedi (Software Engineer, Delhi)
  Dr Walter Fernandes (Programme for Tribal Studies, Indian Social Institute)
  Dr. Vandana Shiva (Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology)
  Yayasan Gemi Nastiti (Salatiga)
  Riza V. Tjahjadi (Pesticide Action Network-Indonesia)
  Amici della Terra (Friends of the Earth-Italy)
  Centro Internacionale Crocevia
  Center for Orang Asli Concerns
  Asociacion Nacional de Empresas Comercializadoras de Productores del Campo,
  Uniona Nacional de Organizaciones Regionales Campesinas Autonomas (UNORCA)
  David Barkin (Professor, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana)
  Fernando Bejarano (General Coordinator. Red de
  Accion Sobre Plaguicidas y Alternativas en Mexico - RAPAM)
  Francisco Martínez Gómez (Profesor, Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio
  Saltillo, Coahuila)
  Both ENDS
  NoGen, Documentation Center on Biotechnology
  Sigrid Vásconez (Institute of Social Studies)
  Friends of the Earth-New Zealand
  GATT Watchdog
  Maori Congress
  Mataatua Declaration Association
  Brad Heising (Post graduate Research University of Auckland impacts of MIA
  on Treaty of Waitangi) 
  Chris King (Senior Lecturer Mathematics, University of Auckland)
  Kathryn Scott (Research Officer, Department of Geography, University of
  Peter R Wills, PhD (Theoretical Biologist, University of Auckland)
  Guises Montaña Experimental
  Action for Economic Reforms
  Federation of Free Farmers
  Manila People's Forum on APEC (MPFA)
  Philippine National Peasant Caucus (PNPC)
  Philippine Peasant Institute (PPI)
  Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy
  Research and Education)
  Joel I. Rodriguez (Management & Organizational Development for Empowerment,
  Inc. -  MODE)
  Pamela G. Fernandez (Professor)
  Sabino Garcia Padilla, Jr., PhD (Associate Professor, University of the
  Oscar B. Zamora (Professor, University of the Philippines at Los Banos)
  Esperanza López de Uralde, Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Defensa
  Ambiental (CODA)
  Ekologiska Lantbrukarna 
  Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
  Basler Appell gegen Gentechnologie (Basel, CH)
  Schweizerische Arbeitsgruppe Gentechnologie (Zuerich, CH)
  Swiss Coordination ‘No Patents on Life’ (Boeckten, CH) 
  Drug Study Group (DSG)
  Intermediate Technology (ITDG)
  The Gaia Foundation
  The Genetics Forum
  Pesticides Trust
  Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR)
  Brian Goodwin (Professor, Shumacher  College)
  Dr Andrew Herxheimer (International Society of Drug Bulletins)
  Maewan Ho, PhD (Biophysicist, Open University)
  Ben Matthews (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
  Darrell Posey
  Christian Taylor (Environmental Society, School of Biology, Bath University)
  Toby Tyrrell (Southampton Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton)
  American Association of Legal Publishers
  Arizona Toxics Information
  Community Nutrition Institute
  Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR)
  Consumer Project on Technology, Center for Study of Responsive Law
  Council for Responsible Genetics
  Edmonds Insitute
  Friends of the Earth - US
  Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)
  Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)
  Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First)
  National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981)
  Native Forest Network, WNA (Montana)
  North American Indigenous Peoples’ Biodiversity Network (NAIP-B)
  project underground (California)
  Pure Food Campaign
  Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA)
  Sierra Club
  The Cultural Conservancy
  U.S. Humane Society
  Washington Biotechnology Action Council (WashBAC)
  David Andow, PhD (Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota)
  Phil Bereano (Professor of Engineering, University of Washington)
  Richard Caro (Conference Registrar, LBJ School of Public Affairs,
  University of Texas at Austin)
  Noam Chomsky (Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  Rick Crawford (Lecturer in Information Age Ethics, University of California)
  Claire Cummings (Attorney at Law)
  Inyigo de la Cerda (Department of Biology and University Herbarium,
  University of Michigan)
  Anne Ehrlich (Senior research associate in biological sciences, Stanford
  University, and Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences)
  Michael Feinstein (Santa Monica City Council, California)
  Bruce Ferguson (PhD candidate, Department of Biology, University of Michigan)
  John Gershman (Institute for Health and Social Justice, Massachusetts)
  Libby Goldstein (Food and Agriculture Task Force, Pennsylvania)
  Sheldon Krimsky (Professor, Tufts University)
  Tom Lent (California)
  Stuart A. Newman, PhD (Professor, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy,
  New York Medical College)
  Robert L. Sapp Sr. (Environmental Engineer, Delaware)
  Allen Spalt (Agricultural Resources Center, North Carolina
  Doreen Stabinsky (Professor of Environmental Studies, California State
  Millie Thayer (Graduate student, Dept. of Sociology, University of
  California, Berkeley)
  J.C. Wandemberg, Ph.D (International Institute For Natural, Environmental &
  Cultural Resources Management, New Mexico State University)
  Instituto del Tercer Mundo (ITeM)
  REDES - Amigos de la Tierra/Uruguay
  Asociacion de Vigilantes Voluntarios del Ambiente - Frontera Gran Sabana 
  Julio Cesar Centeno, PhD (Professor, University of the Andes)
  Anna Sartorio de Ponte (COAMA Coalicion Orinoquia-Amazonia)
  Clara Ferreira (Doctoral Student, Universidad Central de Venezuela)
  Kristin Dawkins
  Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  2105 First Avenue South
  Minneapolis, MN 55404 USA
  Central tel: (612) 870-0453
  Direct tel: (612) 870-3410
  Fax: (612) 870-4846
  Email: kdawkins@iatp.org
  URL: http://www.iatp.org