The World Trade Organisation’s TRIPs agreement, (trade-related intellectual property rights), is to be reviewed at an oncoming meeting, to provide member countries with clear guidance over their powers to ban companies from patenting living organisms, especially those traditionally used as foodstuffs. The issue has become controversial because of bids by food multi-nationals to acquire patents on rice varieties. A WTO statement said that the TRIPS Council meeting on June 18-22 would try to clarify or amend the agreement, “to take account of traditional knowledge, community rights and biodiversity.”

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent