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Documenting Traditional Knowledge: Challenges and Opportunities

19 November 2014, CGIAR Master Class, Brendan Tobin

Documentation is a potentially powerful tool for the conservation and protection of traditional knowledge for present and future generations. Documentation may include the making of written notes, audio and visual recording, collection of genetic resources, compilation of passport data, preparation of laboratory notes drawing upon field research, development of open access and restricted access databases, filing of ethnobotanical records, compilation of local seed registries, preparation of scientific research papers, research reports and other academic and non academic writings. Documentation may be used as a tool for education and targeted dissemination of information and as a means for recording prior art. It may also, however, lead to distortion of traditional knowledge and undermine control by traditional custodians over access and use of their knowledge. Once documented traditional knowledge is susceptible to rapid dissemination and even where access is restricted there is a heightened possibility of leakage.

 

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