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Intellectual property rights and agricultural biodiversity: Literature addressing the suitability of IPR for the protection of indigenous resources

King, Amanda B., Eyzaguirre, Pablo B.
Agriculture and human values 1999 v.16 no.1 pp. 41-49
biodiversity, crops, indigenous knowledge, indigenous peoples, intellectual property rights, ownership, social structure, wild plants
Recent debate has focused on the use of intellectual property regimes for the protection of indigenous resources. Both domesticated crops and useful wild plants are shaped by indigenous knowledge and by their uses within indigenous cultures. This implies that the preservation of cultural systems is as important as the conservation of the associated biological resources. Intellectual property has been suggested as a means to protect indigenous resources from misappropriation, and to create increased investment in their conservation. Four recent books that discuss the problems that arise from the application of IPR for the protection of indigenous resources highlight a salient issue: that current IPR systems may conflict and undermine the culture, social structure, and knowledge systems of indigenous societies. In order to support conservation through indigenous management of biodiversity, a number of steps are required for the negotiation of intellectual property systems that are more compatible with indigenous people's value systems and concepts of ownership.