BBC has reported that
India has won a decade-long battle at the European Patent Office against a patent granted on a product derived from the native plant neem. The EU Parliament’s Green Party, India-based Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE) and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) successfully argued that the anti-fungal properties of neem were part of the traditional knowledge of Indians, and that the patenting corporation, WC Grace, had engaged in “biopiracy.”
This is awesome news. And precedent setting.
Just because a multinational corp spots a piece of dna it likes, doesn’t mean they can just decide to own it. And more often than not, those bits of dna are not special by accident but are a result of generations of selective breeding.
As is knowledge about medicine and plants. I will note that the WAI 262 claim is still slogging it’s way through the Treaty process. If people thought the Foreshore and Seabed court decision caused a stink, wait til this one gets further through the process.
Only this time, multinational GE corporations will be the ones to suffer the ramifications, as opposed to the Government. It won’t be pretty.
Hopefully however, the people of Aotearoa will be a bit more educated about Te Tiriti and the history of colonisation in this land by that time. And will be more supportive of the position of tangata whenua, and against further confiscation.
For thos of you who don’t know much about Dr Vandana Shiva and her work on indigenous bioddiversity, check her out, one of my biggest heroes.