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Biodiversity - Research Paper Example

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Biodiversity This paper focuses on the loss of biodiversity as a result of the multiple threats that confront it, most particularly the march towards biotechnology. Biotechnology giants like Monsanto have argued that biotechnology improves livelihoods for farmers…
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Download file to see previous pages On a more lofty plane of analysis, proponents of biotechnology, laud it as a triumph of human innovation, an example of humankind’s superior knowledge over other organisms in the eco-system. Some even argue that “sustainable agriculture is possible only with biotechnology and imaginative chemistry.” (Schneiderman and Carpenter, 1990). Environmental advocates, on the other hand, warn of the hazards of biotechnology on biodiversity and other life-forms. For example, environmentalists assert that the corn that is keeping pests away is also killing the Monarch butterfly. According to Wilson (1992), “the race is on to develop methods, to draw more income from the wildlands without killing them, and so to give the invisible hand of the free market a green thumb.” the central debate that underpins the biotechnology discourse: balancing the WTO principles on liberalization and the environmental concerns of biotechnology. To quote Herdegen (2010): Biotechnology on the international level, is covered by the said Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), which build their judicial content upon a precautionary approach. On the other hand, WTO trade law is deemed to focus on the abolition of trade barriers and the combating of protectionism and unjustified discrimination. Therefore there is a potential for conflict between trade law and MEAs, especially in the field of biotechnology. It is this conflict that has made the crafting of an international legal framework for biotechnology so fraught with tensions, and the road to Cartagena so bumpy. The proposal for the international regulation of biotechnology was spawned by a 1986 incident, wherein the United States tested a genetically-modified rabies vaccine in Argentina, without having informed, much less obtained consent, from the Argentine government. This raised fears that with without an international legal framework for biotechnology, developed countries would use developing countries as laboratories, thus putting citizens of the latter at great risk. (Gupta, 2000: 24). There was a pre-existing Convention on Biological Diversity that could be used to serve as a framework for the creation of a convention particularly and specifically addressing biotechnology concerns and issues. Article 8 of the CBD called on Parties to “establish or maintain means to regulate, manage or control the risks associated with the use and release of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnology which are likely to have adverse environmental impacts that could affect the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, taking also into account the risks to human health.” On the basis of Article 8, the parties to the Convention decided to form a working group to hammer out a protocol acceptable by all. Delegates from 170 nations locked heads in Cartagena to work through the contentious issues being raised and the various points of divergence between nations and stakeholders. In a press release by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 1999, Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the program, was quoted as saying: “we need a widely accepted protocol that protects the environment, strengthens the capacity of developing countries to ensure biosafety, complements existing national regulations, and promotes public confidence in biotechnology and all the benefits it can offer.” This, however, proved to be easier said than done. Countries from Europe and from the developing world found themselves forming an ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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