Traditional Knowledge and Access to Genetic Resources Critical Elements towards a National Policy and Legislation for Chile

Jorge Rojas

Abstract


Traditional knowledge, hereinafter TK, is a broad concept that is deeply rooted in the life of billions of people, especially within the indigenous communities that have developed it either in the North or in the South. TK has multiple manifestations in several fields, from medicinal uses of plants and herbs, to artistic creations. Bio-prospective activities during the 90 have brought the TK problematic to the international fora: the indigenous communities, South Governments, NGO’s and some other groups have complained against the everlasting misappropriation of TK. Since genetic resources are scarce in the North, TK has been reaching increasing value for transnational companies and Universities research groups who have turned their interest to it as a critical source of their R+D projects to advance their business and academic agendas. This work addresses the problematic of TK as well as the Access to Genetic Resources and the benefit Sharing derived from it (hereinafter ABS). It intends to contribute to clarify some still obscure issues for Chile and to show some valuable international experiences to advance in the process of drafting a national strategy, policy and legislation to regulate the issues surrounding TK and AGR. The work calls for a collaborative approach between the main stakeholders to better achieve huge humanity challenges as fighting hunger and catastrophic diseases. The first part addresses the main concerns about TK from an international legal perspective, explaining different views and issues, some of them quite controversial. The second part brings up an interesting new approach to align conflicting interest in the international world, the so-called public-private partnership. The third part is an attempt to provide guidance to decision makers in Chile and eventually some other developing countries on how to face such a process having in mind the fulfillment of the principles and objectives surrounding TK and ABS. The work ends with some conclusions and thoughts regarding the matter.

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