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Globalisation or Westernisation? Ethical Concerns in the Whole Bio-business

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Increasing awareness of the importance of the biodiversity of the whole global biosphere has led to further awareness that the problems which arise in connection with preservation and exploitation of our planet’s biodiversity are best tackled from a global perspective. The ‘Biodiversity Convention’ and the ‘Human Genome Project’ are some of the concrete attempts at such globalisation. But, while these efforts are certainly very good at the intentional level and on paper, there is, at the practical level of implementation, the danger that globalisation may simply translate into westernisation, given the Western world’s dominance and will to dominate the rest of the globe. How is ‘global bioethics’ to be possible in a world inhabited by different cultural groups whose material situation, powers, ideas, experiences and attitudes differ rather markedly and who are not, in any case, equally represented in globalisation efforts and fora? One index of the pertinence of this question is that talk about biodiversity, biotechnology, biotrade etc. is being increasingly matched by talk about biopiracy, biorade, biocolonialism etc. In this paper, I attempt to explore and develop these very general concerns.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: University of Yaounde, Cameroon

Publication date: 1999-07-01

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