When I was given this book by the editor, a world respected authority on biosafety, I knew it was about our biological resources and knowledge, but I was not prepared for the outrageous information about such a benign sounding concept. “Benefit Sharing” is yet another way in which politically and economically poor groups and countries are forced to render unto the Caesars of the world their biodiversity and natural wealth. This one issue is the metaphor for current imperialistic globalization. To read it is to be instructed in how we are sold out and what we can do about it.
Burrows explains in her introduction that when “access to genetic resources and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their utilization” was negotiated by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, she realized this was going to be a painful and ugly deal.
In today’s world everything is a commodity, even though many of the writers in this book want to believe that life is sacred and cannot be owned, most acknowledge that the powerful are stealing and patenting many life forms from seed to human cells. For indigenous peoples who see no separation from their lives and the life around them, the theft of their biodiversity is most devastating.
The eleven writers are themselves a diverse group comprising scientists, activists, lawyers, scholars from all parts of the earth. They clarify this complex subject and some offer possibilities for citizen directed change.
(The Edmonds Institute Website: www.edmonds-institute.org)