Bioprospecting at the Poles

Edward Elgar
Publication Type:
Research Handbook on Polar Law, 2020, pp. 271-291
Issue Date:
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The Chapter begins by outlining the reasons why both the Arctic and Antarctica are of interest to the biotechnology industry. Debates surrounding regulation of bioprospecting in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are examined and the key issues at stake are outlined. Debates on potential regulation of bioprospecting in Antarctica first ocurred at Antarctic Treaty meetings in 2002, and since then its implications for Antarctica have been debated regularly within the various Antarctic Treaty forums. Some 18 years later no definitive resolution of the issue has been achieved. In contrast, in the Arctic, most bioprospecting has occurred within areas of national jurisdiction. The third part of this Chapter examines the emergence of bioprospecting regulation within national jurisdiction in the Arctic, primarily in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Greenland. Examination of these jurisdictions highlights that domestic regimes are implemented consistently with the provisions of the 1992 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and its associated 2010 Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Finally, this Chapter examines the implications of the international instrument currently being developed in relation to biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (the BBNJ instrument) for the small part of the Arctic that lies beyond national jurisdiction, and for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. The Chapter concludes with brief observations comparing and contrasting the three different approaches to bioprospecting.
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