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Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01266

Challenges of justice in the context of plant genetic resources

  • 1University of Zurich, Switzerland

In this article I discuss access and benefit-sharing (ABS) for plant genetic resources from an ethical perspective. This leads to the question of what types of justice actually play a role when more equity and fairness is demanded for plant genetic resources. Five dimensions of justice will be distinguished: classical distributive justice, which deals with a fair distribution of goods; commutative justice, which concerns a fair exchange of ‘give-and-receive’; justice as recognition, which relates to treating all involved parties with the same respect; reparative justice, which pertains to fair amendments for wrongful actions in the past; and procedural justice, which is concerned with just decision processes. Drawing on the discussion of ethical problems with biopiracy, the distribution of environmental burdens, and plant genetic resources in agriculture, I will illustrate that the use of genetic resources poses challenges across all five dimensions of justice. Because the combination of justice challenges are specific for each case of resource use, I will argue that it is important that users of genetic resources are aware of the complexity of the justice problems in order to ensure fair and equitable ABS negotiations.

Keywords: Access and benefit-sharing, Commutative justice, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Distributive justice and injustice, Environmental justice (EJ), Genetic resources access

Received: 13 Jun 2019; Accepted: 11 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Deplazes-Zemp. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Anna Deplazes-Zemp, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland,