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Fair shares or biopiracy? Developing ethical criteria for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from crop genetic resources

Rojahn, Julia (2010):
Fair shares or biopiracy? Developing ethical criteria for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from crop genetic resources
Phd-dissertation (Tübingen, Germany: Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen).


One main objective of the Convention on Biological Diversity is the "fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources" (Art. 1). In this PhD thesis, the author has addressed the question what exactly "fair and equitable" benefit sharing could mean, differentiating it into questions concerning aims and purposes, legitimate property rights, who should receive benefits and who should be required to share them, what elements they should consist of, and how these demands could be implemented. For answering these questions, she has first derived general principles of justice in benefit sharing from the conceptions of justice by John Rawls and Thomas Pogge, before then employing them for developing concrete criteria for fair and equitable benefit sharing for crop genetic resources. In a nutshell, fair and equitable benefit sharing according to the principles and criteria identified in this thesis should be conceived and designed (also) as compensation for existing inequalities and injustices. Another central result is the observation that benefit sharing based primarily upon private contracts between individual users and providers is probably not able to meet important demands of justice, such as the protection of the rights of resource holders, multilateral benefit sharing, and benefit sharing for resources already in the public domain. Therefore, the author suggests a global benefit sharing scheme which combines contractual benefit sharing with benefit sharing in the absence of such contracts. Unfortunately, substantial concerns of justice like those considered here are often neglected in politics, e.g. in the current negotiations for an International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing.

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