[Excerpt] "The classification of plant genetic resources (PGRs)1 as the common heritage of humankind continues to generate controversies.The debate is between developing countries that are the primary sources of these resources and industrialized, biotechnologically advanced countries that appropriate and utilize PGRs as raw materials for various commercial products, such as medicine, seed variety, or pesticides. Scholars of diverse backgrounds express various opinions on whether PGRs obtained from plants found within a territory of a sovereign state should properly be designated “common heritage of humankind” or regarded as part of the “commons,” and therefore freely accessible. The debate also extends to and challenges the status of traditional knowledge on the uses of PGRs. The dominant but not necessarily the correct view is that such knowledge is information in the public domain, incapable of private ownership or control."
Chika B. Onwuekwe, The Commons Concept and Intellectual Property Rights Regime: Whither Plant Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge?, 2 PIERCE L. REV. 65 (2004). Available at http://scholars.unh.edu/unh_lr/vol2/iss1/7