36 cases show growing biopiracy in Africa

13 March, 2006
A recent report detailing 36 cases of bio-piracy in Africa has been creating ripples at international meetings negotiating a fair deal for developing countries to benefit from their genetic resources and traditional knowledge.

The report, entitled 'Out of Africa: Mysteries of Access and Benefit Sharing' (available at http://www.edmonds-institute.org) provides 36 brief case studies of medicines, cosmetics and agricultural products that originate from biodiversity (including plants, marine life and microbes) in African countries and that have been patented by multinational companies without there being evidence of benefits accruing to the countries of origin.

Published by the US-based Edmonds Institute with the collaboration of the African Centre for Biosafety based in South Africa, the report was released at a meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which discussed international rules to regulate bioprospecting and ensure fair and equitable benefits to countries and communities that provide biological resources and associated traditional knowledge.

The report made a strong impact on delegates at the 4th Meeting of the Working Group on Access and Benefit Sharring in Granada in January that was negotiating an international regime.

It was also referred to by some delegations (Kenya and Sri Lanka) as evidence that bio-piracy is rampant and on-going during a World Trade Organisation meeting in February on the relation between the WTO