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Monday, 13 May 2013

EU debating biopiracy law to protect indigenous people

The European Parliament is debating a draft biopiracy law requiring industry to ask for the written consent of local or indigenous people before exploring their region’s genetic resources or making use of their traditional know-how and compensate them accordingly.
The law was drafted after the MEPs voted in January a report which proposed several measures for the protection of the rights of people in developing countries who first identify the benefits of plants with medicinal properties, and that are later used in the pharmaceutical industry.  
Under the law, relevant authorities would have the power to sanction companies which failed to comply.
The initiative is inspired by the international convention on access to biodiversity, the Nagoya protocol, ratified by only 16 countries. The protocol specifies among others that: states have sovereign rights over their biological resources; access to genetic resources requires prior informed consent and shall be granted on mutually agreed terms; and that benefits arising from the use of genetic resources shall be shared in a fair and equitable way with the country providing the resources. The European Union and its 24 of its 27 member states have signed the convention, but are yet to ratify it. When they do, Nagoya should soon reach the 50 states needed for it to come into force.

The EU council of ministers will debate the Parliament’s draft of law in the coming months.


Source: Euractiv