Knowledge for Development

Relevant publications

Geographical indications, in situ conservation and traditional knowledge

by Jorge Larson Guerra, Mexico National University for the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable DevelopmentICTSD policy Brief Number 3, November 2010Jorge Larson Guerra, biologist, Mexico National University, writes a policy brief for the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) Project on genetic resources. After detailing the rationale and the history of the development of the ‘geographical indication’ (GI) concept, the author describes the GI legal context, with a focus on developing countries and their efforts to implement and promote the GI concept in their jurisdiction. GI’s value chains, and the role played in biological conservation and traditional knowledge is also explained, in depth. This brief is rich on references and provides up-to-date knowledge on GI placing it on the agricultural science and trade policy-makers’ agenda. The author concludes “the current neglect for GIs within discussions on in situ conservation and the protection of traditional knowledge should end and there should be in-depth discussions on their possible drawbacks for developing countries, as well as on their positive contributions to the pressing issues of conservation and development in rural diverse areas worldwide.”


Agro-Technology – A philosophical introduction

In this textbook Paul Thompson of the University of Toronto, Canada, presents an account of the significant issues – identifying harms and benefits, analysing and managing risk – which lie beneath the public controversy on genetic modification (GM) in agriculture. His comprehensive analysis looks especially at genetically modified organisms, and includes an explanation of the scientific background, an analysis of ideological objections, a discussion of legal and ethical concerns, a suggested alternative – organic agriculture – and an examination of the controversy's impact on sub-Saharan African countries. His book will be of interest to students and other readers in philosophy, biology, biotechnology and public policy.


Bridging the gap on intellectual property and genetic resources (WIPO)

David Vivas-Eugui. ICTSD Issue Paper No. 34. January 2012.Discussions on how to address concerns about the misappropriation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge have been high on the agenda of a variety of multilateral forums such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In the past two years, WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) has witnessed an acceleration of its work in particular on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. However, the gap in positions on genetic resources remains significant. Against this background, this issue paper examines at length the range of measures and options discussed in the IGC especially biodiversity disclosure requirements and databases. It also considers the binding or non-binding nature of the instrument(s) that might emerge from the IGC and their different implications. In connection to all these aspects, the paper makes recommendations regarding processes, substance and existing research gaps that could contribute towards advancing the IGC’s deliberations.


Environment and Development Challenges: The Imperative to Act

A group of the world’s leading scientists and experts in sustainable development – all past winners of the Blue Planet Prize – called for urgent changes to policies and institutions to enable humanity to tackle environmental crises and improve human wellbeing. The paper emphasises transformational solutions to key environment and development challenges. It highlights the policies, technologies and behaviour changes required to protect the local, regional and global environment, stimulate the economy and enhance the livelihoods of the poor. (via Mongabay, 22/04/2012)


On being a scientist: A guide to responsible conduct in research (3rd edition)

The scientific research enterprise is built on a foundation of trust. Scientists trust that the results reported by others are valid. Society trusts that the results of research reflect an honest attempt by scientists to describe the world accurately and without bias. But this trust will endure only if the scientific community devotes itself to exemplifying and transmitting the values associated with ethical scientific conduct. This book was designed to supplement the informal lessons in ethics provided by research supervisors and mentors. It describes the ethical foundations of scientific practices and some of the personal and professional issues that researchers encounter in their work. It applies to all forms of research – whether in academic, industrial, or governmental settings – and to all scientific disciplines. A continuing feature of this edition is the inclusion of a number of hypothetical scenarios offering guidance in thinking about and discussing these scenarios.


World Science Academies release report to promote research integrity

To encourage researchers around the world to adhere to universal science values and ethical behaviour, a new report on responsible science has been issued by the InterAcademy Council and the IAP – the global network of science academies. The report is the first product of the IAC and IAP's project on scientific integrity, initiated in response to several major trends reshaping the research enterprise, including the increasingly global and interdisciplinary nature of science, its heightened role in policy debates, and the continued emergence of high-profile cases of irresponsible research behaviour in many countries. To read UK’s DFID comments on the report, click here.(IAP, 10/2012)


A review of existing regulatory systems for GM food products labelling

The labelling of GM foods is a key issue in the ongoing debate over the risks and benefits of food crops produced using biotechnology. This Legal and Policy Brief of the African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE, African Union/NEPAD) reviews the labelling requirements of genetically modified (GM) food products for developing countries and developed countries including: South Africa, Kenya, European Union and USA. This brief clarifies the major dichotomy that separates countries with voluntary labelling guidelines from those with mandatory labelling requirements. (AU/NEPAD ABNE, 2013) 


Guidelines: access and benefit sharing in research projects

These guidelines describe the type of agreements that can be used in access and benefit sharing in research projects. Their primary audience are scientists working with crop genetic resources and related traditional knowledge in research organisations. They can also be useful for authorities involved in legislative processes on the matter and for local populations who participate in research and development projects dealing with the conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity. This publication is based on the experience gained during the implementation of the project ‘In situ/On farm Conservation and Use of Agricultural Biodiversity (Horticultural Crops and Wild Fruit Species) in Central Asia’. (Agrobiodiversity Platform, 12/4/2013) 


ICSU World Data System (WDS) strategic plan 2014-2018 published

This document, produced in consultation with WDS Members of the International Council for Science (ICSU), outlines five strategic targets that the WDS Scientific Committee (WDS-SC) considers to be important for international collaborative scientific research: (i) make trusted digital data repositories and services an integral part of international collaborative scientific research; (ii) nurture active disciplinary and multidisciplinary scientific data services communities; (iii) improve the funding environment for data services; (iv) improve the trust in, and quality of, open scientific data services; and (v) position ICSU-WDS as the premium global multidisciplinary network for quality assessed data.   (ICSU WDS, 06/2014)


The Australian Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) framework: A model case for bioprospecting?

Despite a pioneering ABS legislation in Australia, there is still only one biodiscovery case involving commercial benefit sharing under Commonwealth legislation. One lesson is the need for improving the dynamic element in ABS contracts, building in a clearer trigger point for when the obligations to share are actualised and to reverse the burden of tracking and follow-up to the user rather than leaving it to the provider. Linking the ABS and IPR legislation through disclosure of the source of biological resources in patent applications can be an appropriate legal measure to track compliance. Fridtjof Nansen Institute  (FNI) ABS expert researchers argue the outside world would also benefit from Australia being a party of the Nagoya Protocol because the country has learned many ABS lessons to be shared with other parties of which many will not have come nearly as far in their ABS experience. Among others, there are lessons about drawing up an effective regulatory system, but also about legal challenges for federal nations with mixed jurisdictions between the federal and state level. These lessons concern partnerships between public academic institutions and the private sector with great benefits for both parties, as well as difficulties in distinguishing scientific from commercial biodiscovery and defining roles.   (FNI, 01/2014)