Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Biopiracy is the theft or usurpation of genetic material especially of plant or other biological origin by using the patent process.In simple, practical term its is the theft of genetic material or traditional knowledge of the biodiverse third world countries by the western nations by using their money power.A classic example would be the use of turmeric for healing wounds.This has been in use in India from the ancient age.However in 2003 two US based people weregranted the patent of using turmeric for using against wounds.It was simply an introsion into our cultural tradition and theft of our traditional knowledge to enrich the pockets of a few.

The Texmati case where a strain of Bsmati, a native of India was crossed with a semi dwarf variety of rice by Rice Tech, a US based company is another example of Bio Piracy.This way Basmati which traditionally has been a communal property of the Sub Himalayan region of India has been"Hijacked" by the patent process by USA and poor Indian farmers have been left at the receiving end.Use of Kala Jira or Kalaunji,Jamun, Methi have been pirated by the West by using the patent process and this has left thousands of Indian farmers impoverished.

The basic logic behind patents is that it is a mechanism to promote innovation, by ensuring that the "inventor" would have the exclusive right to sell and distribute the "product"s he has "invented".Unfrtunately the Western corporates have resorted to unethical practices of swindling our very own knowledge or genetic resources to entrench their own pockets in the most unethical way.

To ensure that there are legal mechanisms in place to ensure that this knowledge is not freely appropriated, the Indian government is in the process of finalising a law titled the Biological Diversity Bill. The bill contains various provisions for regulating access to biological resources, patent claims, and indigenous knowledge protection.This bill is a beginning, though inadequate.What we must understand is our right to our resources-genetic,human or knowledge.Awareness of the common people along with proper legislation and international cooperation can curb this menace.

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