“Who owns the genes of the forest trees?”

trees image from stock xchngI was interested to learn that the question of who owns the genes of forest trees has no clear legal definition.  See the Press Release from an event connected with EURFORGEN[1] entitled “Who owns the genes of the forest trees?

“Is it the owner of the tree, the owner of the land or perhaps the finder of the propagating material who gains the ownership right?”

The press release went on to say (emphasis is my own):

“Carl Gustav Thornström of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences … had warned that we are moving towards too much political correctness on this whole genetic resources issue without proper regard to practicality… He made a plea for far better training of people in the interface between law and genetics so that perhaps new thinking could be applied to resolving these forest genetic conundrums.”

In addition to the materials on the EUFORGEN site there was a background paper prepared for the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture entitled: “The Use and Exchange of Forest Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The hope is that some legal frameworks on access and benefit sharing (including forest resources) might be delivered during the latest rounds of the CBD meetings taking place this month in Japan.

(thanks Karine Malgrand for sending the EURFORGEN link to me)


[1] “EUFORGEN is a collaborative programme among European countries to promote conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources.”

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