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Editor-in-Chief,   Anatole Krattiger

Editorial Board

Concept Foundation


Fiocruz, Brazil

bioDevelopments-   Institute

Bioprospecting, Traditional Knowledge, and Benefit Sharing
Topic Guide for Senior Administrators

Why This Topic Is Important

It is anticipated that biodiversity and indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge, as sources of discovery similar in some ways to research, may be important sources of new technology for the future. While the underlying dynamics are similar—involving documentation, protection, uncertainty, risk, rights, investment, partnership, R&D, and marketing—there are legal issues that set these sources of new knowledge apart. This section discusses approaches, policies, and mechanisms for managing biodiversity as an input to R&D, within the context of the rapidly evolving international and national legal frameworks for biodiversity resources and traditional knowledge.

Key Implications and Best Practices: Section 16

Given that IP management is heavily context specific, these Key Implications and Best Practices are intended as starting points to be adapted to specific needs and circumstances.

  • The technology transfer office should work with senior management to establish policies and systems for accessing indigenous or traditional knowledge (TK), bioprospecting activities, and benefit sharing in an equitable manner.
  • Equity is a moral issue that has repercussions with respect to the distribution of benefits and environmental conservation. Thus, equity is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Given the complexity of the health and agricultural industry and the enormous variety of applications and products that could be developed through the biodiversity access agreement (BAA), it is very difficult to know the profit margins for a company, product, or application ahead of time. Technology transfer, as well as information and data sharing, in the long run, may be more important than royalties.
  • With adequate funds often lacking in public sector research centers, international donors should seriously consider loans or grants for training and equipment purchases. entering into bioprospecting activities, the public sector has much to gain by:
    • having a clear institutional policy
    • building national scientific capabilities, and along with it, the possibility of adding value to biodiversity elements, which increase the negotiating strengths and benefit sharing stipulated in contract agreements
    • having internal capacity for negotiations, which includes adequate legal and counseling skills about the main aspects of commercial and environmental law
  • Managers can identify which nonmonetary benefits companies could provide (such as capacity building, and technology transfer), that would be of greatest use to the institution. This approach will enable flexibility in benefit sharing and sustainability in the R&D relationships.
  • Public sector institutions can provide important intellectual and programmatic leadership in how cross-cutting agricultural research programs can build bridges between TK and science and between organic agricultural and science-based agricultural practices. In so doing, they will help to advance the state of knowledge, the regulatory structure, and public perceptions of agricultural systems.
  • The commonly held distinction between organic and biotechnology-based agriculture inhibits pragmatic approaches to creating agricultural management systems that build on local conditions, help alleviate poverty, respect local cultures and traditions, and benefit from a successful relationship with science. The world has much to gain by reconciling organic and biotechnology-based agriculture though realizing any gain will have to deal with the “power structures of knowledge,” and overcome limitations imposed by those people who maintain the distinctions.

Recommended Chapters       Show All AbstractsShow All Abstracts

Show AbstractAbstract Access and Benefit Sharing: Illustrated Procedures for the Collection and Importation of Biological Materials
by Carl-Gustaf Thornström, Lars Björk

Show AbstractAbstract Access and Benefit Sharing: Understanding the Rules for Collection and Use of Biological Materials
by Carl-Gustaf Thornström

Show AbstractAbstract Bioprospecting Arrangements: Cooperation between the North and the South
by Djaja Djendoel Soejarto, C. Gyllenhaal, Jill A. Tarzian Sorensen, H.H.S. Fong, L.T. Xuan, L.T. Binh, N.T. Hiep, N.V. Hung, B.M. Vu, T.Q. Bich, B.H. Southavong, K. Sydara, J.M. Pezzuto, M.C. Riley

Show AbstractAbstract Deal Making in Bioprospecting
by Charles Costanza, Leif Christoffersen, Carolyn Anderson, Jay M. Short

Show AbstractAbstract Reconciling Traditional Knowledge with Modern Agriculture: A Guide for Building Bridges
by Klaus Ammann