Legal arrangements governing a plant breeder's intellectual property rights to his inventions are likely to affect the future of crop research. Such systems, although controversial, are probably currently desirable for the developed world. The new genetic technologies may change this judgment, and certainly require redefinition of the lines between plant patents and regular patents. Several safeguards, present in the United States breeder's rights law, should be applied more broadly. A new safeguard—of ensuring that material be entered into germplasm banks—should be applied everywhere. For the developing world, the desirability of a plant patent system is much less clear; new agreements may be desirable to ensure the free flow and collection of germplasm.