Governance of Genetic Resources

Governance of Genetic Resources

A Guide to Navigating the Complex Global Landscape

Catherine Rhodes

Governance of Genetic Resources maps out a landscape of the international governance of genetic resources. It shows what governance efforts currently exist, what is missing, which areas are problematic, and outlines what the international community should be aiming for in regard to its future development and implementation.

Chapter 3: Issues

Catherine Rhodes

Subjects: development studies, law and development, environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, intellectual property law, law and development, public international law


Having outlined in the previous section the types of genetic resources that are of international concern, this section takes a more detailed look at some of the issues of international concern for which governance of genetic resources will have implications. It will soon be clear that these include some major global problems that require urgent international action. Some of these issues have been given quite extensive coverage within Chapter 2, and so they are only briefly outlined here; others demand more elaboration. The issues all cut across more than one type of genetic resource; several encompass all genetic resources. Because of both their immediate and longer-term uses (and potential future uses) for research, breeding and introduction, and because some ex situ conservation efforts are necessary, genetic resources are (and have for centuries been) collected and exchanged. This has been practised for longest (in an organized manner) for plant and animal genetic resources, but is now becoming extensive for all types of genetic resources. Collection refers to the stage at which the genetic resource is taken from its in situ location. This stage can also be referred to as harvesting or bioprospecting. It may be undertaken by individuals, national or multinational groups (both public and private sector); it may or may not involve transfer outside of the source country.

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