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Extra resources for Accessing and Sharing the Benefits of the Genomics Revolution
Similarly the description of Morck and Yeung (2001) on what “economists know, suspect and guess about the underlying determinants of the pace of innovators” buttresses this view. 22 The key to invention, they assert, is proactive investment in research and development. 23 Without patent protection, information or ideas that give rise to innovation are susceptible to “free rider” problems (Morck and Yeung, 2001). Free riding has been described as “situations where some individuals (albeit institutions and corporations also) “free ride” on the efforts of other individuals to provide either the good itself or the set of rules (and their monitoring and enforcement)” for sustaining a resource (Becker and Ostrom).
Despite the economic and social implications of biotechnology and associated monocultures, there is no legal support under the current international jurisprudence for the denial of source countries’ proprietary interest in germplasm. The current denial ignores the past and ongoing intellectual input of local farmers in the improvement of seeds and plant life forms occurring within their communities, albeit through non-modern biotechnology (or “scientific”) methods (Kloppenburg, 1988). This non-recognition of property rights of source communities over their plant germplasm and the associated traditional knowledge also has far-reaching economic and social consequences for these societies (Busch, et al,1991).
Thus, “communal property” or “communal resources” simply refers to property or resources jointly owned by a community or family. Land, in most parts of Africa—particularly in agrarian communities—is an example of property that is usually held by communal IDEOLOGY OF THE COMMONS AND PROPERTY RIGHTS 27 ownership (Utuama, 1991). Land related resources, such as cropland or pasture, economic trees, and sacred or spiritual plants are often held jointly in traditional societies, for the mutual benefit of the communal (common) owners.