Case Studies and Conflicting Interests
Elgar Intellectual Property and Global Development series
Edited by Tania Bubela and E. Richard Gold
Chapter 3: A Comparative Analysis of Access and Benefits-Sharing Systems
Rebecca Crookshanks and Peter W.B. Phillips INTRODUCTION The use of traditional knowledge and associated genetic resources in modern biotechnology has created a complex tangle of claims over rights, entitlements and expectations of access, ownership and reward. As interest in the role and value of indigenous genetic resources has grown, a high-stakes debate has erupted over the establishment of rules and principles concerning the conditions for the resources’ access and use, as well as how the benefits derived from such use should be shared with the communities from which the resource and associated knowledge first originated. A wide range of political processes and actors are involved in the discussion but a satisfactory agreement has yet to be reached. The challenge for all participating actors is to find an effective and lasting framework for achieving a comprehensive and fair benefits sharing system that can regulate the tangled interests in current and future proceedings. Although important legislative advancements have been made at the national, regional and international levels, access and benefit-sharing (ABS) systems are currently implemented using readily available, but often piecemeal, approaches. There is a large variance between individual agreements and, although most draw upon one or more existing international conventions (including the World Trade Organization’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights [TRIPS] Agreement, the Doha Declaration, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the World Intellectual Property Organization), few are grounded on a common understanding of the need to recognize and protect ownership of knowledge in all its forms, especially...
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