What is Biopiracy?
Biopiracy is the practice of commercially exploiting naturally occurring genetic material or biochemical. Most of the indigenous people possess a traditional knowledge that mainly comprises of genetic diversity and biological feature of the natural environment from generation to generation. Some of the traditional knowledge that is relevant to global survival includes the following components.
- Medicinal Plants.
- Farming or Agriculture.
- Varieties of Food crops.
The essential components for the survival of rural and indigenous people include conservation of habitat, species, and biodiversity.
Examples of Biopiracy
- Biopiracy of African super-sweet berries: Pentadiplandra brazzein is a plant found in the west of South Africa. It is a vital source of protein known as Brazzein. Here, people use it as a low-calorie sweetener. It is known to be two thousand times sweeter than sugar. Recent developments include isolation of the gene encoding brazzein that has been sequenced and patented in the USA.
- Patenting of Azadirachta indica – Neem: Since ancient times, Neem has proved to be useful in several ways. Indians have shared their knowledge regarding neem across the globe. In the year 1994, U.S. Department of Agriculture and an American company – W.R. Grace received a European patent that included various methods that are used for controlling fungal infections in plants by using a composition extracted from neem.
- Biopiracy of the Enola bean: It was named after the wife of Larry Proctor, who patented it in 1999. Enola bean is a variety of Mexican yellow bean. Farmers in North Mexico depended on sales of this bean. The patent-holder subsequently sued a large number of importers of Mexican yellow beans. As a result, it caused economic damage to farmers. A lawsuit was filed by farmers and the result was in favour of farmers as ruled by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
- The rosy periwinkle: The rosy periwinkle was originally found in Madagascar. Now, it has been introduced to several other tropical countries across the globe. This implements that researchers can obtain knowledge from one nation and plant samples in other nations.
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