Friday, May 9, 2008

A book review on Biotechnology, IPR and Biodiversity/M.B.Rao and Manjula Guru

Devarai, R. S.2008. "Biotechnolgy, IPRs and Biodiversity/M.B.Rao and Manjula Guru.,New Delhi: Dorling Kindersley (Pearson Edn), 2007,pp229,Rs.6oo" : A Book Review.- Akruti Journal of Infrastructure.- 1(3)April 2008.,pp250-251.

It is indeed a challenging task to author a book on the three contemporary topics, viz., ‘Biotechnology, IPRs and Biodiversity’ together placed in relation to each other. The authors M.B.Rao and Manjula Guru claim to have brought out their diverse and multidimensional deliberations on the topics cited above in unison and in interaction and inter relation with each other. One can notice ample of literature on the topics of Biotechnology (BT), Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and Biodiversity (BD). This literature cuts across disciplinary boundaries, covering various issues with diverse facets. The topics BT, IPR’s and BD have become so common in the media and professional literature, that these have become part and parcel of common sense and conventional wisdom.

It is in this background that the authors in one go, have attempted to analyse the details of the concerns and commitments of the developed and developing countries about issues pertaining to Science, Technology, Policy, social/survival issues directly or indirectly related to BT, IPRs and BD. The book is spread out in ten chapters. Chapter 1 covers the topic ‘biotechnology’ with emphasis on its positive and negative impacts on society. In Chapter 2, the authors give an overview of disastrous effects of Genetically Modified Food (GMFs) and the laws enacted by various countries in this regard for mitigating their harmful effects. Chapters 3 and 4 deal with biotechnology, patent law and the role played by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for the conclusion of a ‘binding agreement’ on the conservation of Plant Genetic Resources. Authors lay a special emphasis on the fact that the FAO’s role in this regard did not yield desired results due to opposition of the developed countries. Rao and Guru dwell on issues and concerns like : the need to preserve biodiversity, agreements on the conservation of Flora and Fauna and protection of ecosystems/habitats, backgrounds which led to the signing of the historical Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), The Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety etc in Chapters 5-10. All through the chapters, the authors skillfully glide from science, social science, social work, law to technology easily with ample of comfort to explain the general concerns pertaining to BT, IPR & BD.

The text is a good blend of the experience, exposure and credentials of the authors. Mr. Rao is an advocate and a senior bureaucrat. Ms.Manjula Guru is an advocate at Delhi High Court. She is a member of the American Association of Agricultural Economists. Both of them have number of papers and publications to their credit. The authors are successful in educating the reader on BT, IPR & BD. They have tried to highlight the critical issues like biodiversity laws, vested interests of the developed countries on IPRs and Patents, marginalization of the indigenous people, vested interest of MNCs etc which are a matter of great concern to both developed and developing countries. The authors have crisply brought out the fact of USA not signing the CBD. They have highlighted USA’s concerns over its MNCs and their ‘Biotechnology business’, than about the concerns and issues of developing countries.

By and large the book is a narrative and probably a result mainly of the reading, scholarship and experience of the authors. No study or survey seems to form the base of the deliberations by the authors. Nevertheless this book on Biotechnology, IPRs and Biodiversity is a welcome addition to the already burgeoning list of books in this field. The authors’ efforts are appreciable., as they are successful in sensitizing and raising the curiosities of the readers to know more in this regard.

Rajashekhar Devarai
JAIN’S SEZ MANUAL 2007 by Abha Jain, India Investment Publications, New Delhi, April 2007, pp 410, Rs. 470
Indian Special Economic zones (SEZs’) are zones within the territory of India that operate on a global paradigm of business practices, regulatory framework and enjoy the freedom to do business and trade without government restrictions. They have access to all the advantages pertaining

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