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Whose Rules? Equity in Research Involving Biodiversity and the Cultural Knowledge of Aboriginal Peoples

Date Published: 2004

Full Reference:

Bannister, K., 2004. "Whose Rules? Equity in Research Involving Biodiversity and the Cultural Knowledge of Aboriginal Peoples." Paper presented at the Public Lecture Series in Applied Ethics. Vancouver: UBC Centre for Applied Ethics, October 7

Abstract:

The cultural knowledge of Aboriginal communities has long been a fascination of social scientists. More recently, researchers from natural sciences and biotechnology have taken an interest in cultural knowledge related to biological diversity, such as traditional plant medicines. Biodiversity research involving cultural knowledge (especially that with perceived commercial value) raises complex, value-laden and politically-charged issues at the interface of ethics and law. Researchers are expected to abide by a host of policies and protocols in addressing prior informed consent, access to genetic resources, benefit-sharing, and intellectual property ownership. Few scientists have the expertise to adequately deal with these issues. Choices or conflicting obligations require a balancing of diverse interests and stakes in the research, sometimes leading to serious dilemmas involving knowledge and resource appropriation and transformation. Research ethics and intellectual property ownership policies in Canada are slow to evolve to meet the demands of these new and complex situations. Meanwhile, the role of extra-institutional tools, such as professional codes of ethics, and community protocols have become crucial in defining whose rules should form the platform for ethical and equitable research.

 
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