Author(s): Merson J
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Abstract Despite the rhetoric of decolonization following World War II, developing countries are, if anything, more dependent now on the science and technology of the developed world than they were in colonial times. This has led some critics to describe their situation as "neo-colonial." This paper will explore the issue in relation to the biotechnology industry, and to the 1993 United Nations Convention on Biodiversity. This convention challenged the assumption that the earth's biological and genetic resources are part of the "global commons" by giving property rights over these resources to the nation-states. While the objective of encouraging states to conserve biodiversity is universally endorsed, the strategy of using property law to do so is not. The search for new genetic and biological resources has become a major priority for the agrichemical and pharmaceutical industries, and despite continuation of the colonial tradition of appropriating indigenous knowledge and resources, new and more equitable models are being explored and developed within the convention's framework. These strategies, while controversial, offer the hope of a new and more just "International Genetic Order."
This article was published in Osiris
and referenced in Journal of Biotechnology & Biomaterials