The Précis of the Museum of Bioprospecting, Intellectual Property, and the Public Domain: A Place, A Process, A Philosophy

By Joseph Henry Vogel, MJ Moreno, Manuel Ruiz, Tomme Young, Stephen B. Brush, Charles R. McManis, Valentina Delich, Camilo Gomides and Carlos Muñiz.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Knowing more and more about less and less is the hazard of advanced research. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is no exception. Since its ratification in 1993, publications have gushed forth to address the problems of bioprospecting, intellectual property, and the public domain. Although the problems persist, faith remains strong that technical solutions are waiting to be found. Besides, specialists will rationalize, non-technical solutions are not our bailiwick. Civil society must weigh in on the ethics as we flesh out the technical solutions. What exactly are those ethics? How will civil society “weigh in?” Such unwelcome questions are not unique to bioprospecting, intellectual property, and the public domain. Forty-years ago Jacques Ellul commented, “Everywhere we find men who pronounce as highly personal truths what they have read in the papers only an hour before, and whose beliefs are merely the result of a powerful propaganda.” We perceive a different solution that does not risk becoming either the propagandist or the propagandee. Because nothing behooves democracy more than debate, we propose construction of a museum as a vehicle for agreement and disagreement over the legitimacy, merit, and correctness of governmental decisions on bioprospecting, intellectual property, and the public domain.

Keywords: ABS, Access to Genetic Resources, Biopiracy, Bioprospecting, Convention on Biological Diversity, Geopiracy, Intellectual Piracy, Intellectual Property, Museum as Forum, Public Domain, Tragedy of the Commons, Tragedy of the Anti-Commons

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.111-126. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.323MB).

Joseph Henry Vogel

Professor, Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Science, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras, San Juan, USA

Joseph Henry Vogel, PhD is a professor at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras who specializes in the economics of biodiversity. An invited speaker at over 200 forums worldwide, Vogel has authored Genes for Sale (Oxford, 1994), The Biodiversity Cartel (CARE, 2000) and dozens of refereed articles that explain an economic approach to access to genetic resources and intellectual property. Vogel has worked on various projects funded by the World Bank, InterAmerican Development Bank, USAID, and the United Nations Environmental Program. He has been a Fulbright scholar in Brazil, a research fellow in Australia, and a professor at the Facultad Latinoamerica de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Ecuador. He has recently finished two book projects, Amazonia in the Arts: Ecocriticism versus the Economics of Deforestation (co-authored with Camilo Gomides) and The Museum of Bioprospecting, Intellectual Property, and The Museum of Bioprospecting, Intellectual Property, and the Public Domain: A Place, a Process, a Philosophy (editor of the anthology).

MJ Moreno

Department of Social Sciences, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras, San Juan, USA

María José Moreno holds a PhD in Sociology from Columbia University and has conducted postdoctoral studies in the sociology of museums at the Smithsonian Institution. She is currently an assistant professor of social sciences at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras. Her academic publications focus on the sociology and economics of art museums and on art and technology.

Manuel Ruiz

Director, International Affairs and Biodiversity Program, Peruvian Society for Environmental Law, Lima, Peru

Manuel Ruiz is a Peruvian lawyer who has provided research and technical assistance in protected areas since 1990. Specifically, Ruiz advises and publishes on access to genetic resources, intellectual property rights, biosafety, indigenous rights, and biotechnology. Currently, Director and Principal Researcher in the International Affairs and Biodiversity Program of the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA), Ruiz is engaged in the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the national, regional, and international levels, and has served as a Peruvian delegate for the Conference of the Parties of the CBD in COPI (Bahamas), COPII (Jakarta), COPIII (Buenos Aires), COPIV (Bratislava), COPV (Nairobi), and COPVI (The Hague). He has also been an invited speaker in diverse venues in over two dozen countries and has consulted for FIELD, UNCTAD, UNDP, FFLA, IDB, ICTSD, IUCN, South Center, Andean Community, UNDP, FAO, UK Food Group, IPGRI, World Resources Institute, among others.

Tomme Young

Consultant on International Environmental Law and Policy, Consultant on Environmental Law and Policy, Bonn, Germany

Tomme Rosanne Young has returned to private practice as an independent consultant on environmental law and policy and international mechanisms, having served as Senior Legal Officer at International Union of the Conservation of Nature from 2000 to 2006. Her first formal work on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) began in 1991 in which she developed a guide for FAO member countries regarding the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. She is proud to say that her opinions on ABS issues have evolved since that initial work. In a variety of consultancies over the years, she has provided technical assistance to developing countries and indigenous groups in the drafting of environmental laws and setting up of regulatory systems. The focus has been the application of commercial and financial concepts and laws to environmental purposes. From 2003 to 2007, she headed The ABS Project, which is a five volume edition from the IUCN Environmental Policy and Law Paper Series. She is a United States citizen, currently residing in Bonn, Germany.

Stephen B. Brush

Professor, Department of Human and Community Development, University of California, Davis, California, USA

Stephen Brush is Professor of Human and Community Development at the University of California, Davis. His research focuses on the human ecology of traditional agricultural systems and he has conducted long-term research in Peru, Mexico, and Turkey. His extensive publications on the conservation of crop genetic resources in cradle areas of domestication as well as on farmers’ rights, include Farmers’ Bounty: Locating Crop Diversity in the Contemporary World (Yale, 2004) and the edited volume Valuing Local Knowledge: Indigenous People and Intellectual Property Rights (Island Press, 1996). Brush served as Program Director for Anthropology at the National Science Foundation and Senior Scientist at the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute. His current research concerns the landscape factors relating to maize diversity, the use of local maize in the Mexican tortilla market, and the sustainable development of minor tubers in the Cusco area of the Peruvian Andes. He has been a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and of the UCMEXUS/CONACYT program of California and Mexico.

Charles R. McManis

Professor, School of Law, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Charles R. McManis is the Thomas and Karole Green Professor of Law and Director of the Intellectual Property & Technology Law Program at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. He received his B.A. degree from Birmingham-Southern College in 1964, and both his M.A. (in Philosophy) and J.D. degrees from Duke University in 1972. Professor McManis has been a visiting lecturer at universities and academic conferences throughout the United States, Asia, Europe, and in South America. During 1993 and 1994, Professor McManis was Fulbright Fellow in Korea, where he conducted research at the International Intellectual Property Training Institute in Taejon. He has served as a consultant for the World Intellectual Property Organization, in India, Korea, and Oman, and in 2002 presented a paper at a Joint WIPO/UPOV Symposium, on the Co-existence of Patents and Plant Breeders’ Rights, in Geneva, Switzerland. Professor McManis’ book, Intellectual Property & Unfair Competition in a Nutshell, is now in its fifth edition. He is also co-author of Licensing Intellectual Property in the Information Age, 2nd edition (Carolina Academic Press, 2005) and editor of a multi-authored volume, entitled Biodiversity and the Law: Intellectual Property, Biotechnology and Traditional Knowledge (Earthscan/James & James 2007).

Valentina Delich

Professor, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Valentina Delich is an attorney who holds an MA in International Relations (1996) and is currently a candidate for PhD at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). She has received the Doctoral Fellowship (2003-2007) from the UBA as well as a research grant from the Fulbright Commission (2005). Delich is a professor at FLACSO-Argentina and teaches international economic law and intellectual property. Her recent publications include “The Political Economy of High-tech Commodities: the Successful and Litigious Case of the Genetically Modified Soy in Argentina” (UNCTAD, 2008);”La cooperación Sur-Sur en propiedad intelectual: el caso de Argentina y Haiti” (FLACSO,2008) and “Negociaciones internacionales, salud y liberalización comercial: un problema de global governance” in: Derecho a la Salud y Servicios de Salud en el orden internacional y regional, edited by Rimoldi de Landman (Universidad de Buenos Aires, 2007).

Camilo Gomides

Associate Professor, Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Humanities, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras, San Juan, USA

Author of perhaps the most rigorous definition of “ecocriticism” in literary theory, Camilo Gomides, PhD is broadly interested in how rhetoric impacts conservation and can motivate audiences to live within limits. Gomides has published in Interdisciplinary Studies of Environment and Literature (ISLE), OMETECA Sciences and Humanities, and The Tulane Environmental Law Journal on diverse themes, ranging from ecological debt and Columbus’ Diary, to consilience and Don Quijote, to geopiracy and the falsification of location in the visual arts. His book Amazonia in the Arts: Ecocriticism versus the Economics of Deforestation, co-authored with Joseph Henry Vogel, is forthcoming in English and Spanish from the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO-Ecuador). Trilingual in Portuguese, Spanish, and English, he has also translated technical articles into and from those languages for academic journals and professional societies. At the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras, Gomides teaches Portuguese language and Brazilian literature and cinema.

Carlos Muñiz

Doctoral Candidate, Faculty of Education, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras, San Juan, USA

Carlos Muñiz Osorio, D.Ed.(c) is finishing his dissertation on the implications of the philosophy of Paulo Freire for biology education. He has designed computer-assisted educational material for “Biopaz” (BioPeace) and served as on the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rican Chapter of Amnesty International. Carlos has crafted many educational tools and curricula in a variety of funded projects and consultancies. Possessing a keen sense of design, combined with a good knowledge of informatics, Muñiz has been the research assistant for Prof. Vogel in a variety of sponsored projects (2004-2007). With Vogel, Gomides, and Janny Robles, he is a co-author of “Geopiracy as an Emerging Issue in Intellectual Property Rights: The Rationale for Leadership by Small States” Tulane Environmental Law Journal (Spring 2008) which has also been published in Spanish and Portuguese.


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