Institutionalizing Biopiracy: Analysis of the Benefit-Sharing Rules in the Brazilian Biodiversity Law

Gaia Hasse
Affiliated with the Environmental Law Commission
of the Brazilian Bar Association

Kelly Lissandra Bruch
Law Professor and Coordinator,
Law School - UFRGS

Joana Stelzer
Professor of Law,
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Direito


The debates on sustainable development raise one of the key points of sustainability: the substantial value of traditional knowledge in developing a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship. Nevertheless, although this discussion aims at establishing rules and boundaries to the access and exploitation of natural resources, traditional knowledge is not easily defined nor protected by the current legal frameworks. This hardness creates a normative gap regarding the protection of cultural expressions and knowledge of indigenous and traditional peoples. In Brazil, Law 13123/2015 set the current legal framework related to the matter, assorting about genetic resources, the protection and access of traditional knowledge and benefit sharing for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. However, its dispositions are contradictory and there is a lack of protection of Brazilian socio-biodiversity. From the analysis of the benefit-sharing rules in the Brazilian Biodiversity law, this article identifies that the legal system allows the appropriation of Traditional Knowledge without fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from its exploitation with the Traditional Communities. This research work aspires to explain the formulation of the current legal framework, disputing the role that the dominant epistemology plays in the determination of legal concepts and, accordingly, in the creation of norms.


ABS rules, convention on biological diversity, decoloniality, ecology of knowledge, Nagoya protocol.             LEAD Journal - ISSN 1746-5893