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Title: Biodiversity and poverty vis-a-vis biotechnology and prosperity
Authors: Gupta, Anil K.
Keywords: Biodiversity;Poverty;Biotechnology
Issue Date: 22-Mar-2010
Series/Report no.: WP;1991/954
Abstract: The debate on intellectual property rights of third world farmers, pastoralists and artisans has almost always been guided by the fear that the industry in the developing countries (particularly drug industry) would be wiped out if patent rights demanded by the western companies were granted. This position, I contend, stems from inability of the elite scientists and policy planners in these countries to recognise the strength of the indigenous knowledge systems. It is assumed that there is no knowledge reserve in these developing countries which can provide a bargaining strength to these countries. I argue that this is neither a very sensible position nor very useful one while negotiating on this subject. There is a tremendous richness in the knowledge systems of the developing society much of which is in great demand. Unfortunately we have not realised its importance. The results is our excessive dependence on imported technologies and lack of development of indigenous capacities. I also share the dilemma of a third world researcher who by documenting such richness of local knowledge tries to make the farmers' wisdom a common property. Whether this tactical effort would make third world planners shift their stand, agree to sign the convention, patent all the land races, file cases for royalty from companies using any of these plants and refuse the concept of biodiversity as a common heritage remains to be seen.
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