Neo tribal entrepreneurialism and the commodification of biodiversity : WIPO's displacement of redistribution for private property rights

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2005
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- While the most biologically diverse regions of the world are penetrated by bioprospectors, the specimens are destined for patent claims in the patent offices of industrialised nations. These developments do not exist in a vacuum but are being mobilised within an elaborate global trading regime, under which nations are finding it increasingly difficult to reject such patterns of resource appropriation and exploitation. The controversy, which arises, is around access. The most biodiverse regions of the world are found in developing countries and recent clashes between local communities and bioprospectors threaten the supply of genetic information to biotechnology companies. There is also a fear amongst poorer communities that corporate patents may affect their own use and access of genetic resources. However it is becoming more difficult to justify these fears about Intellectual property Rights (IPRs) in the broadest sense due to some contemporary developments, which would see the inclusion of those who have been left out of opportunities to financially benefit from development. The World Intellectual Property Organisation's (WIPO) roles in this has become central. While the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) obliged countries to allow commercial exploitation of biodiversity as a means of conservation, the World Trade Organisation's 'Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights' (TRIPs) Agreement obliges countries to recognize IPR over biological organisms. For a long time both forums were seen as inadequate for addressing issues of inequality that may flow from the domination of genetic exploitation by corporate interests. In recent years, WIPO has been vested with the role of formulating mechanisms for the sharing of benefits from genetic exploitation between corporations and local communities The thesis examines WIPO's new dominance not only in IPR forums but also in forums on development and conservation, through an analysis of the historical emergence of intellectual property regimes.
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