The Sorcerer II Expedition: Intellectual property and biodiscovery

Matthew Rimmer*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    This article considers the significance of a leading marine biodiscovery initiative. In March 2004, Dr J Craig Venter announced the official launch of the Sorcerer II Expedition, a scientific expedition of discovery, which would survey marine and terrestrial microbial populations. The Expedition has the potential to uncover tens of thousands of new microbial species and tens of millions of new genes. Venter has disavowed that the Sorcerer II Expedition has any commercial ambitions. However, various civil society groups have accused the Expedition of engaging in 'biopiracy'. This article considers the intersection of intellectual property law, contract law, environmental law, and international law in this field. It provides a blueprint for a nationally consistent scheme for access to genetic resources, and a model for future international developments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)147-187
    Number of pages41
    JournalMacquarie Journal of International and Comparative Environmental Law
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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