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Biodiversity and Poverty vis-a-vis Biotechnology and Prosperity

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Gupta, Anil K.
Date: 1991
Agency: Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India
Series: Working Paper, no. 954
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4099
Sector: New Commons
General & Multiple Resources
Subject(s): biodiversity
indigenous institutions--developing countries
common pool resources
intellectual property rights
Abstract: "The debate on intellectual property rights of third world farmers, pastoralists and artisans has almost always been guided by the fear that the industry in the developing countries (particularly drug industry) would be wiped out if patent rights demanded by the western companies were granted. This position, I contend, stems from inability of the elite scientists and policy planners in these countries to recognise the strength of the indigenous knowledge systems, it is assumed that there is no knowledge reserve in these developing countries which can provide a bargaining strength to these countries. "I argue that this is neither a very sensible position nor very useful one while negotiating on this subject. There is a tremendous richness in the knowledge systems of the developing society much of which is in great demand. Unfortunately we have not realised its importance. The result is our excessive dependence on imported technologies and Sack of development of indigenous capacities, I also share the dilemma of a third world researcher who by documenting such richness of local knowledge tries to make the farmers' wisdom a common property. Whether this tactical effort would make third world planners shift their stand, agree to sign the convention, patent all the land races, file cases for royalty from companies using any of these plants and refuse the concept of biodiversity as a common heritage remains to be seen. "DNA finger printing as a biotechnologies' tool can be a means of establishing the relationship between patented land races and any new plant variety. The paper also argues that biodiversity is rich in the regions of high environmental risks such as drought, floods, hailstorm etc. Without protecting the knowledge resources of the people in these regions, extraction of their knowledge poses serious ethical and professional dilemma."

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