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Rights to Animal Genetic Resources – Basic facts and debates

Susette Biber-Klemm and Michelangelo Temmermann

elni Review 2011, Issue 2,  pp. 66-78. https://doi.org/10.46850/elni.2011.010

Different strands of thinking and various lines of arguments lie behind the enquiry into the creation of rights to animal genetic resources. These are fueled by three major developments regarding livestock genetic resources: the increasing volume in trade in animal products, the scientific progress in animal breeding with the advances in genetic engineering, and the so-called erosion of animal genetic resources. This paper discusses questions of conservation and the sustainable use of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture (AnGRFA) in context with international trade and property rights. It provides an overview of the ongoing processes, the current debates and involved institutions. The question asked from a trade angle is whether and how incentives (market incentives) can be created to address the failures that lead to market concentration and uniformity of breeds. The hypothesis is that the questions of ownership and allocation of the rights to the genetic information are key and a basis for creating incentives to provide for adequate investments in traditional breeds and foster creativity to adapt them to specific environmental conditions and consumer preferences.

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