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Genetic resources (GRs) refer to genetic material of actual or potential value. Genetic material is any material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity such as medicinal plants, agricultural crops and animal breeds. GRs as encountered in nature are not creations of the human mind and thus they cannot be directly protected as intellectual property (IP). However, there are IP issues associated with GRs. Genetic conservation is an integral part of a much broader activity concerned with protecting the many plants, animals, microorganisms, and communities of organisms that help to meld and stabilize the environment and maintain the quality of air, water, and soil.

The Global Governance of Genetic Resources explores the historical development of international genetic resources governance and considers why the area has become so important and multifaceted. It goes on to analyse the current situation and develop recommendations on what governance efforts should be achieving for the future.

The book analyzes a range of relevant background factors, including the impact of climate change on countries’ interdependence on genetic resources, germplasm flows in and out of international genebanks, crops specific research programs, and countries as a whole. It considers the historical development and mechanics of the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing. It provides space for leaders in the field to reflect on what has worked well, and where challenges remain in terms of the multilateral system’s performance as a central feature in a global system of collective action to conserve and sustainably use genetic diversity, and equitably share benefits derived from that use.

This Book will be of interest to students and academics concerned with the management of genetic resources and its relation to issues such as biodiversity conservation and food security. It will appeal to academic researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners in the fields of international relations, international law and global governance, environmental science, development studies, and the biosciences.