This article retraces the development of the Brazilian legal framework with regard to access and benefit sharing and the protection by patent of biotechnological innovations. It demonstrates that 20 years on from the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Brazil no longer has the same attitude or the same expectations with regard to its genetic resources. The control of the State over access procedures and restrictive regimes in terms of patents are increasingly out of step with the concerns of national researchers and companies alike, and are the target of both criticisms and reforms. The scientific community is seeking to acquire prerogatives for managing genetic heritage, while the State is seeking to strengthen the national biotechnology sector. How is the legal environment adjusting to new and sometimes contradictory issues? What is the new interplay between public and private rights when it comes to genetic resources and natural-based products? To what extent are “commons” systems emerging—both in terms of accessing biodiversity and in terms of protecting innovations?