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Genetic resources, Intellectual Property Rights and Environmental Justice


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Presentation on genetic resources, intellectual property rights and environmental justice given at the Masterclass for Sustainable Development, on November 24, 2013.

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Genetic resources, Intellectual Property Rights and Environmental Justice

  1. 1. Genetic resources, Intellectual Property Rights and Environmental Justice Masterclass for Sustainable Development Nov. 24, 2013 Brendan Coolsaet Biodiversity Governance Unit Centre for Philosophy of Law Université catholique de Louvain
  2. 2. Using genetic resources Pharmaceuticals Plant Breeding Taxonomy Conservation Industrial biotech. Traditional use Sources: plind/Flickr Creative Commons; Sam Fentress/Creative Commons;; Marco Schmidt/Creative Commons
  3. 3. Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS)? Source: CBD ABS Information Kit, 2011
  4. 4. Global distribution of biodiversity + 80% of the world's biotechnology-related patents are owned by US, EU and Japan (Patent Cooperation Treaty, 2006) Source: Barthlott, W., Kier, G. & Mutke, J. 1999. Biodiversity – The uneven distribution of a treasure. NNA Reports 12/1999: 18-28
  5. 5. Convention on Biological Diversity & Nagoya Protocol 1992: The objectives of this Convention [...] are the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources [...] 2010: The objective of this Protocol is the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources [...] Not included: &
  6. 6. Fair and equitable?
  7. 7. Multidimensional justice concerns reparative justice cognitive justice historic entitlement distributive justice Sources: Creative Commons; Centre for Science and Environment; Kroll/CNCD-11.11.11 procedural justice
  8. 8. IPRs and genetic resources IPR Description In Belgium Patent - exclusive and temporary - novel invention that implies an inventive step - susceptible of industrial application - inventions related to bio-material are patentable - research exemptions - Disclosure requirement (geographical origin) Plant Variety Right - new, distinct, stable and uniform plant varieties - distinguished from any other plant grouping by the expression of at least one genotypic characteristic research and breeding exemptions for acts accomplished in a private, non-commercial, experimental capacity and for breeding new varieties Geographical Indications - agricultural product or foodstuff - protected due to its regional and local nature Sources: Coolsaet et al. 2013, Study for the implementation in Belgium of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Final report, 243p.
  9. 9. IPRs and environmental justice issues DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE Restrictions on access by developing countries to markets in developed countries Restrictions in the access to IP-protected goods developed with genetic resources Biopiracy concept and bilateral concepts of benefitsharing "presuppose intellectual property rights" ! REPARATIVE JUSTICE Current IPRs serve the interests of users of GR/TK without helping ensure a fair and equitable BS with the providers. Might be difficult to indentify "owners" of transboundary genetic resources and traditional knowledge
  10. 10. IPRs and environmental justice issues PROCEDURAL JUSTICE Indigenous and Local Communities miss technical and economic resources to challenge patents through courts Indigenous and Local Communities inventions and traditional knowledge are ineligible for IP protection Indigenous and Local Communities and their nation states face unequal participation oppurtunities in international negotiations Sovereignty and responsability for sharing of benefits rest at state level, not local level
  11. 11. IPRs and environmental justice issues HISTORIC ENTITLEMENT Traditional sharing and genetic resources commons might be inhibited Nothern valuation vs. Southern conservation of genetic resources. COGNITIVE JUSTICE Conflicting sharing ethos between CBD and WTO/WIPO Local communities might not see genetic resources/traditional knowledge as ownable commodities. Source:
  12. 12. I want more... Convention on Biological Diversity: ABS Series Factsheets on Genetic Resources, Access and Benefit-sharing, Traditional Knowledge and the Nagoya Protocol channel Overview of world news and perspectives on the 2010 Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing to the Convention on Biological Diversity - Intellectual Property Watch Independent news and analysis on international IP policymaking (including biodiversity) -
  13. 13. Thank you.