Rewarding Conservation of Biological and Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge and Contemporary Grassroots Creativity

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Rewarding Conservation of Biological and Genetic

Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

and Contemporary Grassroots Creativity

Anil K Gupta


January 2003

The main objective of the working paper series of the IIMA is to help faculty members to test our their research findings at the pre-publication stage.





I have earned the gratitude of several institutions and individuals while pursuing this study. The enormous patience by colleagues at WIPO has to be appreciated at the outset. It is true that the goals of this study did get transformed during this period and that required some extra effort. However, the incorporation of many more issues and perspectives may have added to the relevance of this study. Readers will have to judge whether justice has been done to various viewpoints and perspectives adequately.
The objectivity in social sciences is suspect. Only thing that a researcher can honestly do is to make one's biases explicit. Readers would find that I am quite biased in favour of defending the intellectual property rights of creative individuals and communities. The only resource in which poor people are rich is their knowledge. Fourteen years ago when Honey Bee Network started, it became obvious to us that the IPRs of the peasants had to be protected. This sentiment has been expressed for last thirteen years on every page of Honey Bee newsletter. And this was much before TRIPS or CBD had created popular consciousness on this subject. I am aware of lot of critics who believe that IPRs are instruments of control and domination by large corporations. That might have been the case. However, I am convinced that with suitable improvements and substantial changes, IPR system can serve the interests of creative people all around the world. I also believe that the Linux philosophy does provide a fruitful way ahead. If people use a particular knowledge for their own livelihood or survival, the inventor should not object. But if somebody tries to commercialize an innovation, then licensing must be obligatory. Just as we have researchers exemption in Plant Variety Acts, we may have to have survival exemption in the patent laws.
Mr.Shakeel Bhatti, Mr. Richard Owens, Dr.G.Jaiya, at WIPO deserve particular thanks for considerable support during this study. Comments and suggestions from Shakeel were most valuable and in many cases have added enormous value to the quality of the study. There is no doubt that without his constant prodding and helpful chidings, this study would not have been completed.
I must thank large number of creative people and professionals, community members and elders I met in Mali, Nigeria and India. The senior researchers at University of California, Davis were also very helpful.
I plan to send a copy of this study to all the individuals who collaborated in this research and request that a summary in local language be sent to the community members. I hope when they read this study, they would find their concerns faithfully articulated and interests earnestly defended.
I have drawn upon considerable literature review done for a study sponsored by Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Government of India, to develop a framework for sue generis system for protection of traditional knowledge relating to biodiversity and genetic resources.

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