Who owns the rights to oceans' biological bounty?

The high seas are stocked with untold riches. Not gold or rubies hidden in shipwrecks but a more contemporary kind of treasure: the DNA of millions of marine creatures.

The harvesting of this biological bounty is already under way. Around 13,000 genetic sequences from more than 800 marine species have been patented - with just under half of all patents belonging to the German chemicals company BASF.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2018, with the headline 'Who owns the rights to oceans' biological bounty?'. Print Edition | Subscribe