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Sunday, 7 January 2007


Inside Bay Area reports that the Peruvian Government is considering legal action against PureWorld Botanicals, a US company which, since 2001, has held the patent for isolating and distributing an active compound derived from maca, a plant believed to have aphrodisiac qualities. The Peruvians are unhappy because Peru’s Quechua Indians have grown the plant for these purposes for hundreds of years. Peru has called this an ‘emblematic case’ of biopiracy, but PureWorld’s chief scientist retorts “After we studied it, put money into the research, (maca) has become a useful commodity”.

The IPKat is somewhat ambivalent on this issue. He can understand the emotional appeal of the Peruvian argument, but at the same time, he doubts whether the Quechua Indians would have the resources to exploit the plant in a way that would bring its benefits to a wider audience.


Anonymous said...

In the referenced source it is noted "The Convention on Biological Diversity produced at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro entitled nations to a share of the profits from substances yielded by their flora and fauna. It was ratified by 188 countries — but not the United States..."

Anonymous said...

There's an issue of principle here: being entitled to a share of the profits is nice. But some people reason that the concession of a share of the profits is not just a paternalistic nod towards the sweet innocents that grow the flora and fauna but a tacit acknowledgement that they are entitled to control it as well.

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