Part of IFPRI’s annual report (2000-2001), this detailed essay attempts to counter claims that the application of intellectual property rights to agricultural research may leave farmers in the developing countries 'out in the cold'. They say that agricultural researchers in many developing countries are freer than one might think to make use of innovations protected in developed countries.

The authors conclude that concerns that patents and other forms of intellectual property are constraining the 'freedom to operate' in developing countries are largely misplaced, and are actually diverting attention from more crucial issues for agricultural researchers working on staple food crops.