Biodiversity and Biotechnology Conference

On April 4-6, 2003,  the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and the Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies presented a conference on "Biodiversity, Biotechnology, & the Protection of Traditional Knowledge."

Charles R. McManis, the Thomas and Karole Green Professor of Law and director of the LLM Program in Intellectual Property and Technology Law, coordinated the conference, which focused on the agricultural and plant aspects of the biotech revolution, including its impact on the protection of biodiversity.

The event gathered leading biological scientists, social scientists, legal scholars, national and international government officials, and representatives of non-governmental organizations to discuss the protection of biodiversity, the protection and regulation of agricultural and plant biotechnology, and the international intellectual property implications of both, with particular attention to the protection of traditional knowledge and other intellectual property mechanisms of interest to the developing world.

Joining McManis in organizing the conference were other Washington University faculty members and representatives from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The conference consisted of four sessions:

  • Biodiversity: What are we losing and why -- and what is to be done?
  • Biotechnology:  Part of the solution or part of the problem?
  • Traditional Knowledge:  What is it and how (if at all) is to be protected?
  • Ethnobotany and Bioprospecting -- Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

Roger Beachy, director of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, delivered keynote addresses for “Protection and Regulation of Biotechnology” and “Biodiversity Protection,” respectively.

In addition to Drs. Beachy and Raven, other participants included Rabodo Andriantsiferana, Centre National d'Applications des Recherches Pharmaceutique, Madagascar;  Alejandro Argumedo, Associacion ANDES, Cusco, Peru;  Michael Balick, New York Botanical Garden, Institute of Economic Botany; Kelly Bannister, University of Victoria, British Columbia, School of Environmental Studies; Charles Benbrook, Benbrook Consulting Services;  Stephen Brush, University of California-Davis, Human & Community Development;  Lawrence Busch, Michigan State University, Sociology; Jim Chen, University of Minnesota Law School; Roger Chennels, Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa; David Corley, Nestle;  Nuno Pires de Carvalho, World Intellectual Property Organization; Kate Davis, Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, London; Rodrigo Gamez, Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, Costa Rica; Michael Gollin, Venable Law Firm, Washington, D.C.; Ursula Goodenough, Washington University, Biology; Anil Gupta, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmadabad, India; Brian Halwril, Worldwatch Institute, Washington, D.C.; Neil Hamilton, Drake University, Agricultural Law Center; John Hunter, Macquarie University, Australia, Warawawa Indigenous Studies Department; Peter Jaszi, American University, Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic; Chris Jones, Macquarie University, Australia, Warawawa Indigenous Studies Department; Steven King, PS Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Gurdev Khush, International Rice Research Institute; Meto Leach, University of Waikato, New Zealand; Walter Lewis, Washington University, Biology; Margaret Mellon, Union of Concerned Scientists; James Miller, Missouri Botanical Garden; Adrian Otten, World Trade Organizationan; Geertrui Van Overwalle, Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium, Centre for Intelectual Property Rights; Ana Maria Pacon, Catholic University of Peru; Ralph Quatrano, Washington University, Biology; Jo Render, First Peoples Worldwide, First Nations Development Institute; Mercedes Manriquez Roque, Confederation of Amazonian Nationalities of Peru; Manuel Ruiz, Society for Environmental Law, Peru; Joshua Rosenthal, National Institutes of Health, Fogarty International Center; Michael Roth, Monsanto Company; Barbara Schaal, Washington University, Biology; Karel Schubert, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center; Ana Sittenfeld, University of Costa Rica; Maui Solomon, Auckland, New Zealand; Glenn Stone, Washington University, Anthropology; Brendan Tobin, United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan, Institute for Advanced Studies; Jennifer Urban, University of California-Berkeley, Technology A& Public Policy Clinic; Joseph Vogel, Latinoamericana de Ciencias, Quito, Ecuador; Florence Wambugu, A Harvest Biotech Foundation International; and Stanford Zent, Instituto Venezolano de Investigationes Cientificas, Caracas, Venezuela.

McManis conducted a related course for law students on the interface between international intellectual property and environmental protection.

Attorneys attending the conference earned 16.8 MCLE credits.

The conference was generously supported by the law firms of Polsineli White Vardeman & Shalton and Suelthaus & Walsh PC.