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Globalization, New Agricultural Technologies and IPRS: Implications of Modern Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering for Capabilities, Exclusion, and Livelihoods in Developing Countries

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Parthasarathy, D.
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Globalisation, the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Conf. Date: June 17-21, 2002
Date: 2002
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2137
Sector: Agriculture
Global Commons
Information & Knowledge
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
intellectual property rights
genetic resources
indigenous knowledge
international law
Abstract: "The paper seeks to develop a broad framework for analysing the implications of changes in intellectual property rights regimes deriving from both new international legal mechanisms and conventions, and from new agricultural technologies based on modern biotechnology and genetic engineering. The framework can function as a model for analysis and further research on the impact of these changes on the commons and related issues such as biodiversity, and on indigenous knowledge. These impacts could be in terms of social exclusion, loss of skills and knowledge for specific groups and categories of people resulting in a loss of capabilities and entitlements, and a consequent reduction in livelihood choices and strategies. It is also stated that these technologies have the capacity to perpetuate inequalities among groups within a community and between nations and economies. This occurs through excluding people from access to forms of knowledge, skills, techniques, and markets, which are important for subsistence, survival and for competing in a globalized economy. "The paper is based on and uses the influential capabilities and entitlements approach developed by Amartya Sen, to analyse the effects of legal and technological changes on the survival and subsistence abilities and livelihood choices of farm households in developing countries. The capabilities and entitlements approaches are applied to study these effects in terms of changing 'rights regimes', and impacts on poor people's functioning arising from changes in livelihood options or 'capabilities set'. A trend away from pluralistic approaches to law, from a diverse technology and livelihoods basket, and towards greater uniformity and reduction in biodiversity is seen to contribute to the exclusion and marginalization of the rural poor from the development process. Shifts in technology and IPR regimes resulting from the process of globalization transform the social organization of knowledge systems and their application - with a concomitant decay in indigenous knowledge systems. More importantly these have significant impacts on particular social groups such as women, small and marginal farmers, pastoral communities, agricultural labour, groups more dependent on commons etc. A significant aspect of the new changes is that they are brought about by a specific combination of international legal mechanisms and technological / scientific techniques that recast social and economic relations between social groups, communities and nation-states. To capture the nature and consequences of these changes, the paper develops an 'impact map for the commons' that will serve as a model for analysis. The 'impact map' is then integrated with Sens entitlement mapping so as to enable the clear delineation of impacts of livelihood changes on poverty and exclusion. In doing so it draws upon selected case studies of farm household, village, and community level impacts of technological and rights regime changes in the access to and use of common property resources in south Asia. A second strand of analysis derives from established scientific evidence on products of modern biotechnology and genetic engineering, and infers logical conclusions regarding possible impacts on the rural poor in developing countries, in terms of their livelihood choices as reflected in shifts in entitlements and capabilities."

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