The international political economy of the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety

Du Plessis, Marthinus Johannes (2001-03)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The development of the global biotechnology industry largely coincided with the development of the US biotechnology industry. This resulted in this industry's oligopolistic and centralised nature where only a few multinational chemical and pharmaceutical companies control most biotechnology processes and production of commodities emanating from these processes. The governance of biotechnology has, until recently, been dominated by state actors who have endeavoured to secure national interests, including those of large multinational corporations (MNCs) based within their boundaries. The technological ability of developed states to exploit and use unevenly distributed resources to their advantage means that an uneven relationship exists between these and poor developing countries. This has been highlighted by differences in public opinion about the role and application of biotechnology in society. While some opinions favour the use and application of biotechnology to enhance food supplies and boost production levels and trade, other opinions caution against the possible hazards that genetically manipulated organisms (GMOs) hold for the environment and human existence. The commercialisation of biotechnology has resulted in the exponential growth of genetically manipulated crops in especially the United States and countries like Argentina and Canada. These countries produce large surpluses of staple grains such as corn and soya and try to sell these to countries with food supply problems. The clash in commercial interests stemming from developed countries' insistence on the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) on genetically manipulated (GM) seeds has caused considerable conflict with poor farmers who will not be able to sustain their livelihoods if they cannot save seeds for future harvests. This is one aspect of the problems surrounding the protection of knowledge products that is exacerbated by the scientific uncertainty pertaining to the risk involved with biotechnology. While some observers agitate for precaution with the use of GMOs, others feel that a lack of scientific proof of harm is sufficient grounds for proceeding with developments in biotechnology. Conversely, there are some that feel that biotechnology is market driven instead of human needs driven, ultimately resulting in developing countries receiving very little benefit from it. The Cartagena Protocol on biosafety was drafted to address some of the difficulties involved with the transboundary movement of GMOs. Although it holds very specific advantages for developing countries, as a regulatory framework it is limited in its scope and application. Developing countries are limited in their policy options to address their need to protect biodiversity and secure their food supply. This means that considerable challenges and constraints await these countries in utilising global governance of public goods and building their human and technological capacities.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die ontwikkeling van die globale biotegnologie-industrie het grootliks saamgeval met die ontwikkeling van die Verenigde State se biotegnologie-industrie. Dit het aanleiding gegee tot hierdie industrie se oligopolistiese en gesentraliseerde aard waar slegs enkele multinasionale chemiese en farmaseutiese maatskappye die meeste biotegnologie prosesse en die vervaardiging van kommoditeite uit daardie prosesse beheer. Die regering van biotegnologie was tot onlangs oorheers deur staatsakteurs wie gepoog het om nasionale belange te beskerm, insluitend die belange van multinasionale korporasies (MNK) wat vanuit hulle grondgebied funksioneer. Die tegnologiese vermoë van ontwikkelde state om oneweredig verspreide hulpbronne tot eie gewin te benut beteken dat 'n ongelyke verhouding bestaan tussen hierdie en arm ontwikkelende state. Dit word beklemtoon deur verskille in openbare mening oor die rol en aanwending van biotegnologie in die samelewing. Terwyl sekere opinies ten gunste van die aanwending van biotegnologie vir die verbetering van voedselbronne en produksievlakke en handel is, dui ander opinies op die moontlike gevare wat geneties gemanipuleerde organismes (GMOs) vir die omgewing en menslike voortbestaan inhou. Die kommersialisering van biotegnologie het gelei tot die eksponensiële groei van geneties gemanipuleerde gewasse in veral die Verenigde State en state soos Argentinië en Kanada. Hierdie state produseer groot hoeveelhede stapelgrane soos mielies en soja en poog om dit te verkoop aan state met voedselvoorsieningsprobleme. Die botsing in kommersiële belange wat spruit uit ontwikkelde state se aandrang op die beskerming van intellektuele eiendomsreg op geneties gemanipuleerde saad veroorsaak beduidende konflik met arm landbouers wie nie hulle lewensonderhoud kan verseker as hulle nie saad kan berg vir toekomstige saaiseisoene nie. Dit is een aspek van die problematiek rondom die beskerming van kennisprodukte wat vererger word deur die wetenskaplike onsekerheid wat gepaard gaan met die risiko's van biotegnologie. Terwyl sekere waarnemers vir waaksaamheid pleit in die gebruik van GMOs, is daar ander wat voel dat 'n gebrek aan wetenskaplike bewyse van skade genoegsame gronde is vir die voortsetting van ontwikkelings in biotegnologie. Insgelyks is daar diegene wat meen dat biotegnologie markgedrewe in plaas van menslike behoefte gedrewe is, wat uiteindelik daartoe lei dat ontwikkelende state baie min voordeel daaruit trek. Die Kartagena Protokoloor bioveiligheid is opgestel om van die probleme betrokke by die oorgrens verskuiwing van GMOs aan te spreek. Hoewel dit spesifieke voordele vir ontikkelende state inhou is dit as reguleringsraamwerk beperk in omvang en aanwending. Ontwikkelende state het beperkte beleidsopsies om hulle behoefte om biodiversiteit te beskerm en voedselvoorsiening te verseker, aan te spreek. Dit beteken dat beduidende uitdagings en beperkings hierdie state in die benutting van globale regering van openbare goedere vir die bou van menslike en tegnologiese kapasiteite in die gesig staar.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52543
This item appears in the following collections: