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Mexico is making significant research advances in biotechnology but is seriously hampered by its patent-granting system, says Gabriela Fernández.
Biotechnology is presently one of the fastest developing sciences in Mexico. For instance, there is an excellent marine biotechnology centre in the north-western region, while there have been important successes in pharmaceuticals in the central and northern regions.
Mexico has the necessary natural resources to generate and export biological technology. However, in the absence of suitable regulation, there was a risk of overexploitation of its rich biodiversity and, in order to face this issue, the Law on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms, better known as the Monsanto Law, was passed.
The objective of this law was to “regulate the confined utilisation activities, experimental liberation, pilot scheme liberation, commercial liberation, trading, import and export of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so as to prevent, avoid or reduce the possible harm that these activities could cause to human health or to the environment or the biological diversity or animal, vegetable and marine health” (Article 1). This means that special care has to be taken in the regulation of genetic materials so as to avoid contravening the object of the law, including the protection of the inventors of these products through the Industrial Property Law and the Federal Law on Vegetable Varieties.
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biotechnology, patent-granting system, GMO, patent application