Cracking the code: new book to help govern use of genetic resources

13 Jul 2018

A Research Fellow at UQ’s TC Beirne School of Law has co-edited a new book that will guide global researchers and policy makers in the regulation of genetic resources.

The term ‘genetic resources’ refers to valuable genetic material from plants, animals or microbes, such as agricultural crops or animal breeds.

Co-edited by intellectual property and biodiversity expert Dr Kamalesh Adhikari, the recently published Biodiversity, Genetic Resources and Intellectual Property: Developments in Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources features chapter contributions from leading experts in the field.

According to Dr Adhikari, the book addresses new ideas and perspectives on the management of genetic resources.

“The book aims to improve the national and international governance of access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources and Indigenous knowledge,” he said.

“It also explores key historical, doctrinal, and theoretical issues, and suggests ways to reimagine the governance of biodiversity, genetic resources and intellectual property.

“It is an invaluable resource for academics, policy makers, researchers, and students working in intellectual property, biodiversity conservation, governance, sustainable development, and agriculture.

“International institutions including the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) could also benefit.”

Dr Adhikari said regulating the access, circulation and use of genetic resources was an international obligation.

“Member countries of the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity and its 2010 Nagoya Protocol must address this obligation by developing appropriate national policies, laws and programs,” he said.

“These international agreements also require all member countries to create a workable mechanism so providers and users of genetic resources can share in the benefits.”

The book is an extension of Dr Adhikari’s research into the governance of ABS and intellectual property in the Asia-Pacific region.

“My research interest is driven by the fact that the access, circulation and use of biological resources is vital for Asia-Pacific countries to make advancements in food and agriculture, including plant breeding and the development of new, adaptable crop varieties,” he said.

“However, in most developing countries in the region, governance in this area is either absent or ineffective.

“There is also a lack of awareness about international treaties and obligations relating to intellectual property rights over genetic resources and gene-based products and technologies. In many cases, local communities or other stakeholders have not been involved in any benefit sharing agreements with the commercial users of their resources and Indigenous knowledge.”

Dr Adhikari is currently working on his next book project, Reimagining the Governance of Intellectual Property for Plants in Asia.

Media: Caroline Enright, TC Beirne School of Law Communications,, +61 7 3365 2596.