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Patent barrier to the access and diffusion of climate change resilient rice to farmers in Vietnam

By Fabrice Mattei

Principal at Rouse

Researcher in climate science, College of Science and Engineering, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh

Rice is one of the major crops in Vietnam for both domestic consumption and export. It accounts for approximately 90% of total grain food production (Ho et al., 2019) and constitutes 30% of the country’s total agricultural production value (Maitah et al, 2020). However, these market opportunities are compromised by the high exposure of Vietnam to climate change (Global Climate Risk Index 2019). Drought is of the devastating abiotic stresses resulting from climate change which significantly affects rice productivity (Toker et al. 2007). In 2016, an estimated 1.29 million tons of rice were lost and nearly 2 million smallholder farmers were impacted in Vietnam due to a severe drought.

To counteract the effects of climate change, adaptive strategies including introducing Climate-Resilient Rice (“CRR”) varieties are considered. While those varieties have the potential to withstand the effects of climate change, they are largely patented by foreign crop corporations, and their diffusion to farmers is currently insufficient to tackle drought. Fueled by these shortcomings, critics argue that patents act as a barrier to the dissemination of CRR to needed communities. With few exceptions (Barton 2007), (Dechezlepretre et al., 2020) the literature on patent barriers to low carbon innovations has focused on mitigation technologies (Lee et al., 2009), (Ockwell 2010), (Rimmer 2018) and theoretical debate on patents (Saab 2015). In contrast, this paper analyzes patent barriers to CRR for adaptationto climate change from an empiricalapproach through the lens of rice small-size farms in Vietnam.

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Patent barrier to the access and diffusion of climate change resilient rice to farmers in
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