Biopiracy

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Biopiracy

  1. 1. What is Biopiracy ? • From the root words “bio” and “piracy”, biopiracy literally means “the patenting of life.” • Genetic materials from plants, animals, and other biological resources that have long been identified and developed, are being “owned” by companies and manufacturers through patents. • In Short, Collection of genetic materials are
  2. 2. • Biopiracy is the illegal appropriation of life microorganisms, plants and animals (including humans) and the traditional cultural knowledge that accompanies it. • It is illegal because, in violation of international conventions and corresponding domestic laws, it does not recognize, respect or adequately compensate the rightful owners of the life forms appropriated or the traditional knowledge related to their propagation, use and commercial benefit.
  3. 3. History • 3500 years ago, Egyptian rulers began bringing plants home after military expeditions. • In the last century, the British Empire instituted regular plant collections. During the Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin simply took what interested him and brought it home.
  4. 4. • The Royal Botanical Gardens took rubber trees from Brazil, and planted them in Southeast Asia. They took cinchona seeds from Bolivia, in violation of national law, and planted them in India. • More recently, during the mid-twentieth century, Richard Schultes was able to befriend local shamans, who allowed him to collect thousands of voucher specimens of medicinal plants, hundreds of which had never previously been identified taxonomically.
  5. 5. Types of Biopiracy • Traditional Knowledge Biopiracy • Genetic Resource Biopiracy
  6. 6. Famous Cases • Kava (Fiji and vanuatu) • Quinoa (Andes) • Banaba and other medicinal plants (Philippines) • Bitter gourd (Thailand) • Ilang-Ilang (Philippines) • Neem Tree (India) • Rosy Periwinkle (Madagascar)
  7. 7. Why is There a Need to Stop Biopiracy ? • Because of the patenting of biological materials, the locals of the affected countries would have less, if not none at all, access to those new developments which is possibly their original idea or discovery in the first place. Those who are granted the patents would have exclusive rights to their “inventions” and can therefore raise the prices if they choose to.
  8. 8. • By having the license to do whatever they please, patent owners can also hinder the local production. This can have a large impact on the livelihood of those concerned; the ones who are normally free to use as much of the crops or produce as they need are banned from manufacturing such goods. Therefore, if those goods are a source of income for them, they would lose much of the profits that they usually get.
  9. 9. • Patent owners can prohibit farmers from breeding such plant and animal varieties as well. In doing so, they have also taken away privileges that the indigenous people have rightfully earned themselves. • As the patent owners benefit from the information and materials that they do not actually “own”, the indigenous people who have long been developing and cultivating these resources get nothing. They do not have a choice unless knowledge of the materials has been proven traditional and the patent has been canceled.
  10. 10. Actions Taken Against Biopiracy  Bio prospecting Contracts To minimize the detrimental effects of biopiracy and to “legalize” such transactions, there is the so-called “bio prospection contract.” With this contract, economic income or royalties would be provided to the local communities concerned while the patent owners generate earnings. However, the fairness of these contracts has been a subject of debate.
  11. 11.  Patent Law In the United States, patent law is used to protect “isolated and purified compounds” that were newly discovered and invented. A patent is the exclusive rights given to a person so that others will be prohibited in making, using, or selling the invention. One common misunderstanding is that pharmaceutical companies patent the plants they collect. While obtaining a patent on naturally occurring organisms is not possible, patents may be taken out on specific chemicals isolated or developed from plants.
  12. 12.  Convention on Biological Diversity In 1993 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) establishes sovereign national rights over biological resources and commits member countries to conserve them, develop them for sustainability, and share the benefits resulting from the use. Sustainable use of biological resources means finding new drugs, crops, and industrial products, while conserving the resources for future studies. Sovereign rights would be tempered by providing access to genetic resources, in exchange for a share of the benefits, including access to biotechnology.
  13. 13. Conclusion • Biopiracy if not stopped, will continue to erode the biological/genetic resources of the developing countries as well as denying them fair and equitable benefits derived from their losses. • There is need to strengthen the policy, institutional and legal frameworks in the developing countries particularly those in Southern Africa which to date have no national legislation on ABS. • ABS legal regime should be flexible and tailored made to a particular country’s needs. • Use of the Capacity Building Training Module on Policy and Law for Biological/Genetic Resources

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