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Biotechnology and the Environment: Navigating the Uneasy Tensions of WTO-Mandated Trade and Environmental Protection - Essay Example

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This research aims to cover the depth and breadth of the nexus between the environment and trade where biotechnology is concerned and to demonstrate that the relationship is a complex one – fraught with tensions and imbalances. …
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Biotechnology and the Environment: Navigating the Uneasy Tensions of WTO-Mandated Trade and Environmental Protection
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Download file to see previous pages The contentious processes leading up to the general agreements will be traced. The second part will look at the legal debates and issues arising from biotechnology, in chief the conflict between the “precautionary principle” and the “science-based” principle, with the end in view of identifying the direction that biotechnology will be taking in the future. The third part will be a legal analysis on the notion of liability and redress, as framed by the recently concluded Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Creating a legal framework for biotechnology amidst a WTO-driven international trade regime: Tensions and uneasy concessions Biotechnology in its simplest and most straightforward definition is the modification of the genetic make-up of natural organisms to serve human use, consumption and exploitation. A popular example of biotechnology is the “golden rice” which involves genetic modification for the purported purpose of introducing more nutrients and vitamins, particularly Vitamin A. The genetic manipulation facilitates the production of carotenoids in the grain’s endosperm, thus giving it the yellow hue that gave rise to its name. (Paine, et. al., 2005: 482). Another example is the BT corn, which genetically modifies corn crops to protect it from predatory pests such as caterpillars. It is impossible to look at biotechnology without looking at the social backdrop on which it is foisted. According to Kloppenburg and Burrows (2001): In the United States, some 75 percent of all research and development is now undertaken by private industry. Worldwide, companies such as Monsanto, Novartis, DuPont, Aventis, AstraZeneca and Unilever have the almost...
This paper tells that there are very few areas where the tensions between trade and environmental protection are as clearly cut than in biotechnology. Because these tensions are set against the current backdrop of increasing liberalization and environmental degradation, the need to adequately address these tensions and strike a balance becomes urgent and compelling. Biotechnology is perceived by different people in different ways. For some, they are indications of science gone mad – the commodification of everything, of even the most basic and fundamental processes of nature. For others, it is a triumph of human innovation, an example of humankind’s superior knowledge over other organisms in the eco-system. The picture becomes even more complicated when the dispute in perspective is not North-South, but North-North, with Europe holding on to its “precautionary approach” in dealing with the issue of biotechnology and the United States maintaining that the European approach violates treade rules and that a science-based assessment approach remains more consistent with legal commitments to liberalization. The World Trade Organization has endeavoured to come up with a regulatory legal regime to govern trade in biotechnology to ensure that biosafety standards are in place and that biodiversity and ecology are not compromised. There are two particular decisions in WTO jurisprudence that bear upon this conflict: the beef hormone controversy, which began before the Cartagena Protocol, and the biotechnology crops, which was decided under the international law regime of the Cartagena Protocol.


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veumpaul added comment 11 months ago
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At first, I thought 18 of pages is too much for such a question. But now I see it could not be done better. As the author starts you see the complexity of the topic. I’ve read all at once. Perfect paper

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