Biopiracy Watch

A compilation of some recent cases (2013)
Vol. 1

Edward Hammond

Publisher: TWN
ISBN: 978-967-5412-87-5
Year: 2013     No. of pages: 96
14 cm  x 21.5 cm

About the Book

The biopiracy of genetic resources including seeds, medicinal plants and microbes, as well as of the traditional knowledge of uses of those resources from developing countries, has been going on for too long.

There was hope that the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity would reduce, even prevent, biopiracy and further ensure that the benefits from the utilisation of genetic resources will be shared fairly and equitably with the countries, indigenous peoples and local communities concerned. The Convention being inadequate since it came into force in 1994, several years of new negotiations resulted in the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing to the Convention in 2010. In the meantime, biopiracy is unabated.

This compilation of recent papers on biopiracy published by Third World Network describes cases that span the developing world, from African and Middle Eastern medicinal plants to South American fruit, to Asian microbes, among others.

The genetic resources of these cases, claimed in patents and patent applications by corporations and universities, have uses in industry, agriculture, foods, and in pharmaceuticals and other health care products. In many cases, the patent claimants show remarkable disrespect for traditional knowledge and developing country science. The cases also show a disregard for proper access and benefit-sharing agreements among bioprospectors and other users of biodiversity.

Together, these cases show that biopiracy continues as a problem and major injustice, and that much remains to be done to stop it. Problems shown here, for instance the practical impossibility of distinguishing between ‘non-commercial’ and ‘commercial’ access to genetic resources, may be addressed by governments in their national legislation on access and benefit sharing, and through effective implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, and suggestions are made as the individual cases highlight particular issues.

About the author

Edward Hammond directs Prickly Research (, a research and writing consultancy based in Austin, Texas, USA. He has worked on biodiversity issues since 1994. From 1999 to 2008 Hammond directed the Sunshine Project, an international non-governmental organisation specialising in biological weapons control. He was Programme Officer for the Rural Advancement Foundation International (now the ETC Group) from 1995 to 1999. Hammond holds MS and MA degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was an Inter-American Foundation Masters Fellow.


I Introduction

II Recent Biopiracy Cases in Medicinal Plants and Cosmetics

III Recent Biopiracy Cases in Agricultural, Food, and Fuels

IV Recent Biopiracy Cases Involving Microbes

V University Intellectual Property Policies and 'Non-Commercial' Access to Genetic Resources under the Nagoya Protocol


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