Mexicos extensive wealth of natural and genetic resources place it in an important position worldwide. However, it is necessary to make both the public and private sector aware of the importance of protecting Intellectual Property rights over these resources so as to avoid losing exploitation rights.
Biotechnological products and processes where the live material is modified by modern procedures can be protected through patents in Mexico. However, not all live material in which there is human intervention can be protected, as the Intellectual Property Act (LPI, in Spanish) establishes that inventions contrary to public order, morals or good customs cannot be patented. An example of this is the cloning of human beings, which is such a polemical issue from a religious, ethical and moral point of view, or the procedures for modifying the genetic identity of animals and those obtained through these procedures, where the medical utility is not clear and suffering is caused. The Intellectual Property Act also excludes essentially biological processes of plants and animals, biological and genetic material as found in nature, animal breeds, the human body and the living parts which comprise it, as well as plant varieties. For the latter, there is protection under the concept of Breeder Right.
One of the biotechnological products which can be patented are the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). These are organisms, with the exception of human beings, which have acquired a new genetic combination generated through the specific use of modern biotechnology techniques. Examples of GMOs are cotton, soy beans and rice which have been made more resistant to pests or extreme climatic conditions, or to improve their nutritional properties. In microorganisms and viruses, to produce hormones such as insulin, to breakdown pollutants or to produce pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
Since 2005, the use and release of GMOs have been regulated in order to prevent, avoid or reduce possible risks to humans, biological diversity and the environment through the Bio-safety of Genetically Modified Organisms Act (LBOGM in Spanish) and its Regulations.
The creation of this Act clarifies the legal framework for both public and private investors, and also promotes a culture for protecting biotechnological inventions through patents and trade secrets. That is why the industrial sector, together with universities, in the coming years needs to implement a plan which allows it to use Intellectual Property rights to protect its inventions so as to compete at the same level as foreign companies.