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Title: Assessing biological diversity and associative knowledge system: can ethics influence equity
Authors: Gupta, Anil K.
Keywords: Biological diversity;Ethics;Associative knowledge system
Issue Date: 8-Apr-2010
Series/Report no.: WP;1996/1340
Abstract: Regions of high biodiversity are often inhabited by the poorest people. The irony is that many of local healers and other herbal experts do not even charge for their services to the community. They conserve biological diversity despite remaining poor themselves. Their superior ethics cannot be a reason for our inferior ethics. The fact that the younger people are no more inclined to acquire and improve this knowledge further increases the risk of knowledge erosion. The contemporary innovations suffer even worse fate compared to traditional knowledge. In the absence of any institutions to recognize, respect and reward the grassroots creativity, the intellectual properties are exploited by national and multinational corporations inviting charge of biopiracy. The projected losses to third world on this account could be many times more than the suspected loss to developed countries due to copyright and IPR piracy in third world. A registry will prevent any firm or individual to seek patent on community knowledge as well as on knowledge and innovations produced by individuals without some kind of cross licensing. It is hoped that Conference of Parties (COP) will reflect on these suggestions so that a global accord can be reached on general ethical principles. It is recognized that there may be culture specific differences in the perfection of moral issues. However, I submit that it should be possible to have an universal consensus on at least some basic ethical principles governing access to biodiversity.
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