Biopiracy and the Ethics of Medical Heritage: The Case of India's Traditional Knowledge Digital Library' [Book Review]

Journal of Medical Humanities 33 (3):175-183 (2012)
Medical humanities have a unique role to play in combating biopiracy. This argument is offered both as a response to contemporary concerns about the ‘value’ and ‘impact’ of the arts and humanities and as a contribution to ongoing legal, political, and ethical debates regarding the status and protection of medical heritage. Medical humanities can contribute to the documentation and safeguarding of a nation or people’s medical heritage, understood as a form of intangible cultural heritage. In so doing it can fulfill a unique service in protecting indigenous cultural heritage which potentially makes it of enormous economic benefit to national governments. I use the Indian Traditional Knowledge Digital Library as a case study of the value of medical humanities in challenging biopiracy. If my argument holds, then the value of medical humanities to current intellectual property debates can be demonstrated, and its pertinence to legal and economic interests made clear. However, there are some dangers in this strategy, and my paper closes with a discussion of them.
Keywords Cultural Heritage  Applied Ethics
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