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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

EP protecting genetic resources in developing countries

The European Parliament voted this week on a report which proposes several measures for the protection of the rights of indigenous people in developing countries who first identify the benefits of plants with medicinal properties, and that are later used in the pharmaceutical industry.  
Pharmaceutical companies regularly draw on traditional knowledge to identify plants or substances with medicinal properties. Companies can patent the composition and process that arise from the research and development inspired by traditional knowledge. Often the local communities that called attention to the plants' useful properties do not benefit from this and in some cases it can even make it difficult for them to make use of their own discoveries. It can also apply to firms developing new varieties of fruit and vegetables. The problem is often referred to as biopiracy. There are concerns that biopiracy could impede developing countries' economic progress. Current legislation favours companies while traditional knowledge is offered little protection.
The report was presented to MEPs on Monday the 14th of January  and voted on the next day during this week's plenary session in Strasbourg.
According to the report,  the EU should adopt a number of measures to fight against biopiracy; adopt the UN Nagoya protocol - which aims to promote fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources; introduce a new legal framework for granting patents, that would involve applicants having to disclose where ingredients for a product come from; and assist developing countries in establishing the institutions required to benefit from genetic resources and traditional knowledge.


Source: European Parliament