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1994 Biodiversity Conference: First Announcement

david w. galbraith dgalbrai at CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU
Wed Sep 22 11:48:55 EST 1993


Please distribute this to all that might be interested.  Thanks.



                               FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT
        
        
                 BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY:EXPLORING THE COMPLEXITIES
        
        
                                March 25, 26 & 27
                                      1994
        
                                 TUCSON, ARIZONA
        
        
        The  organizers look forward to hearing of your interest in  this 
        event, and welcome any comments (including criticism).
                              ====================

        
        
                            The University of ARIZONA
                                 Tucson Arizona 
        
        
        

        
                                      WITH
        
               THE NATIONAL ENERGY LAW & POLICY INSTITUTE (NELPI)
                               UNIVERSITY OF TULSA
        
        

        
        
                Director, National Energy Law and Policy Institute
                Professor of Law, University of Tulsa, College of Law
                3120, East 4th Place
                Tulsa, Oklahoma 74104
                Tel: 918-631-2431
                Fax: 918-631-3556
                e-mail:  law_ldg at utulsa.edu 
        
        OR
        
                Hans J. Bohnert [Conference Co-Director]
                Professor of Biochemistry, The University of Arizona
                Biological Sciences West 516
                Tucson, Arizona 85721
                Tel: 602-621-7961
                Fax: 602-621-9288
                e-mail:  bohnert at biosci.arizona.edu






        
        
                The Local Organizing Committee: 
        
        Elizabeth Baker,   College of Law. 
        David Galbraith,   Department of Plant Sciences.
        Conrad Istock,   Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.
        Mari Jensen,   School of Renewable Natural Resources. 
        Rita Manak,   Office of Technology Transfer. 
        Juanita Quinn-Simpson,   Department of Philosophy.
        Robert Robichaux, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.         
        Edella Schlager, School of Public Administration and Policy. 
        Barbara Timmermann,   College of Pharmacy. 
        

        BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: EXPLORING THE COMPLEXITIES
        
        
        CONFERENCE PURPOSE:
        
        The goal of the Conference on Biological Diversity is to explore, 
        within  an interdisciplinary framework, the  available  national, 
        transnational,  and international options capable of solving  the
        critical  global  problems arising from the  loss  of  biological 
        diversity.   In  order  to do so the conference  will  probe  the 
        following areas:  what is biological diversity?;  is the loss  of 
        biological diversity a problem?;  what scientific measures can be 
        employed to stem the loss?;  what socio-political measures can be 
        enacted  to manage the loss?;  do or can property rights  protect 
        biological  diversity?  Particular emphasis will be given to  the 
        nature and extent of the interface between intellectual  property
        rights and biological diversity.
        
        
        CONFERENCE FORMAT: 
        
        In  their papers provided in advance of the  conference,  keynote 
        speakers will provide an overview of the major issues and contro-
        versies falling within their outlined subject area (see  attached
        agenda). These different subject areas will be covered in greater 
        depth  in  breakout  sessions.  Invited  discussants  will  raise 
        additional  issues,  offer  different viewpoints  and  guide  the 
        discussion.  In order to facilitate greater interaction,  confer-
        ence attendees are encouraged to indicate if they are willing  to 
        make a contribution at the breakout sessions. 
        

        WHAT IS BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY?
        
        Biological diversity refers to the variety and variability  among 
        living  organisms  and  the ecological complexes  in  which  they 
        occur.  Diversity can be defined as the number of different items 
        and  their relative frequency.  For biological  diversity,  these 
        items are organized at many levels, ranging from complete ecosys-
        tems  to the chemical structures that are the molecular basis  of
        heredity.   Thus,  the  term  encompasses  different  ecosystems, 
        species, genes, and their relative abundance.
        
             Technologies  to Maintain Biological Diversity, U.S.  Office 
             of Technology Assessment, 1987. 
        
        
        Biological  diversity possesses intrinsic value, in  addition  to
        supporting  human  life which depends on the  Earth's  biological 
        resources.  Our material well-being and prosperity depend on  the 
        ability  to utilize biological diversity; the ultimate source  of 
        much of our food, shelter, clothing, and medicine.  Moreover, the 
        protection of biological diversity addresses the continuation  of 
        our cultural, psychological, and spiritual health.
        

        DOES THE LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY CONSTITUTE A PROBLEM ?
        
        If there is an ongoing, and possibly increasing, loss of biologi-
        cal diversity, do such losses constitute a planetary problem?
        
        The  concerned claim that increasing losses of species and  habi-
        tats:

                >    compromise the prosperity of future generations  and 
        their right to a sustainable environment;
        
                >  diminish possible food and medicinal sources for  both 
        present and future generations;
        
                >  endanger our ability to develop additional  scientific 
        insights into the workings of biological and ecological systems;
        
                >   reduce access to the cultural, spiritual and  psycho-
        social values of biodiversity;
        
                >   are wrong because humans have a moral  obligation  to 
        preserve the earth's biota.
        
        The skeptics argue:
        
                >   that there is a lack of evidence that the  extinction 
        rate is increasing and, therefore, the present rate of loss  does 
        not warrant alarm; 
        
                >  that species extinction is a part of the  evolutionary 
        process;  the current   loss of species forms just another  episode 
        in the story of life;

                >  that new technologies can compensate for some loss  of 
        natural genetic diversity.
        
        This question gives rise to a discussion of the following issues.   
        
        WHAT ARE THE SCIENTIFIC MEASURES CAPABLE OF SLOWING OR  REVERSING 
        THE POSSIBLE DESTRUCTION OF BIODIVERSITY ?
        
        Scientists  from a variety of disciplines have suggested ways  to 
        respond to the loss of biodiversity.  The conference will explore 
        some of these, including the following: 
        
        Cataloguing.  According to E.O. Wilson, "one of the key  problems 
        of  science as a whole," is the need to identify  species,  their 
        geographical ranges, biological properties, and possible vulnera-
        bilities to environmental change.
        
        Methods  of preservation.  For example, some advocate the  perma-
        nent preservation and storage of genes, or seeds, or tissues,  or 
        embryos -- or even random species -- particularly for  threatened 
        taxa or geographic regions.
        
        Biotechnology.   By  generating better and new food  sources  and
        processes, genetic engineering is transforming humanityUs ability 
        to  obtain novel useful substances, plants, animals,  and  micro-
        organisms.  
        
        Changing land-use patterns.  Deliberations about land-use  should 
        include  considerations  about biodiversity  preservation.   More 
        education  and research is needed about optimal land use and  how 
        to  utilize  less environmentally harmful methods of  income  and
        resource  generation.  Changes in land-use should  also  consider 
        preservation and restoration of ecosystems.
        
        
        WHAT  ARE  THE  SOCIO-POLITICAL  MEASURES  CAPABLE  OF  REVERSING 
        POSSIBLE DESTRUCTION OF BIODIVERSITY ? 
        
                The  gene-rich centers of biodiversity such as rain  for-
        ests, coral reefs, and wetlands are frequently located in  tropi-
        cal  regions.  The countries in these regions are often  economi-
        cally  deprived  and  depressed, and as a result,  may  have  few 
        resources  or incentives to preserve their biota.   Historically, 
        international  economic markets have provided  disincentives  for 
        preservation.  To deal with this problem, arguably, it is  neces-
        sary to create:

        Global obligations to protect biological diversity.  Internation-
        al  instruments have established the principle of  differentiated 
        responsibility insuring that the burden of paying for  protection 
        falls on the developed, not the developing nations.  What is  the 
        nature and/or extent of this responsibility? 
        
        Recognition  of  the cultural and property rights  of  indigenous 
        peoples.  To  what  extent should such rights  be  structured  to
        protect the traditional ways of life of indigenous peoples?   How 
        might  such  rights permit change while  preserving  the  ancient  
        knowledge of indigenous peoples? 
        
        Institutional recognition of traditional mechanisms for  managing 
        common  pool  resources.  In many traditional societies,  one  or 
        more  natural  resources were managed as common  pool  resources.  
        However,  national governments may not recognize the  traditional
        system  of property rights or management.  Recognition  of  these 
        traditional management systems may help maintain both the culture 
        and the resource. 
        
        DO PROPERTY RIGHTS PROTECT BIODIVERSITY?
        
        Property  rights  are inextricably interwoven  into  the  current 
        discourse on the protection of biodiversity.  The conference will
        seek to clarify the relevant issues on the following topics:
        
        Ownership.   Should seeds, breeding lines, non-domesticated  spe-
        cies, and other genetic resources be treated as the common herit-
        age  of  humankind?  Should they be treated as  the  property  of 
        those  countries in which they are found or located?   Or  should 
        they be treated as property of the finder?

        Pat


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