Global Biopiracy: Patents, Plants, and Indigenous Knowledge

By in Indigenous Peoples on May 11, 2013

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“Biopiracy raises serious issues pertaining to the conservation of biological diversity and genetic resources in agriculture, the integrity of plant life forms, a just international economic order, and development. Since the emergence of the biotechnology industry, ‘biopiracy’ has become a lightning rod for activists.”-from the Introduction

The appropriation of plants and traditional knowledge by corporations and other entities is often called biopiracy. Such practices arise from a cultural milieu that systematically marginalizes non-Western forms of knowledge, which are devalued as “folk knowledge” or characterized as inferior. Global Biopiracy rethinks the role of international law and legal concepts, global patent systems, and international agricultural research institutions as they affect legal ownership and control of plants and the knowledge that makes them valuable.

Ikechi Mgbeoji first examines the Western assumptions and biases that inform the patent system, international law, and institutions affecting farmers around the globe. He next analyzes the cultural and economic traits that divide the industrialized world and the developing world. Finally, Mgbeoji confronts the phenomenal loss of human cultures and plant diversity that has already occurred and that will continue in the future unless protective measures are implemented and enforced.

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