Conservation and sustainable exploitation of plant genetic rsources: International developments

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD candidate, Department of Environment and Energy, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Microbial Biotechnology, Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute of Iran (ABRII), Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Karaj, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, Department of Environment and Energy, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran


Plant Genetic Resources (PGRs) are one of the most valuable natural resources of any
country. Biotechnology through genetic engineering of plants and the creation of new plant
varieties can increase the value of these resources. Different technical and legal
mechanisms such as ex situ/in situ collection of PGRs, and Intellectual Property Rights
(IPRs) indicate also an international institutional effort for sustainable use of biodiversity.
Investigating international developments in the fields of exploitation and conservation of
PGRs is therefore essential. The main purpose of this manuscript is to explore criteria that
international legal instruments use for creating an appropriate interaction between
conservation and exploitation of PGRs. These instruments have been especially developed
in the two systems of international environmental law and intellectual property rights.
Based on a descriptive analysis method, this research attempted to examine the provisions
of these two legal instruments. Research findings indicate that intellectual property rights
encourages the creation and development of green technologies, especially agrobiotechnology and protects Traditional Knowledge (TK) associated with PGRs as an
appropriate tool for the sustainable exploitation of PGRs when implemented in a
responsible manner. International environmental law paves also the way for biodiversity
conservation through creation of binding and non-binding obligations for preserving
genetic diversity on the planet. Sustainable conservation of PGRs requires an appropriate
interaction between the two legal systems.