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Chapter 42 : Contracts for Bioprospecting: the Yellowstone National Park Experience
In 1997, the National Park Service (NPS), Yellowstone National Park (YNP), and Diversa Corporation, a California-based biotechnology company, signed the first benefit-sharing agreement for commercial bioprospecting on federally owned lands in the United States. Globally, bioprospecting has been touted as a way to fulfill the three goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of biological resources, and equitable sharing of the benefits of using those resources. The idea that the CBD's three goals can be fruitfully combined underlies the Yellowstone agreement. The experience of Yellowstone, the world's first national park, with bioprospecting provides an important case study because Yellowstone, by sharp contrast with the earliest targets of bioprospecting, is in the developed world and already enjoys strong legal protection of its natural resources. The Yellowstone-Diversa agreement is couched as a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), a type of agreement specifically authorized by the U.S. Federal Technology Transfer Act (FTTA). In March 1998 three small nonprofit groups filed a lawsuit challenging the CRADA. The three were Alliance for the Wild Rockies, which describes itself as working to secure the ecological integrity of the northern Rockies bioregion; the Edmonds Institute, primarily interested in the regulation and implications of biotechnology; and the International Center for Technology Assessment, which concentrates on the social, environmental, and other impacts of new technologies, including biotechnology.