Jannah Theme License is not validated, Go to the theme options page to validate the license, You need a single license for each domain name.
World News

the fight of the countries of the South against the exploitation of natural resources

Published on :

The countries of the South demand that favored nations share the benefits of biological resources extracted on their territories, used for medical, agricultural or industrial purposes. This issue of biopiracy is a major obstacle during the current COP15 negotiations on biodiversity.

In 2016, Indian ecofeminist and writer Vandana Shiva spoke at the University of Arizona’s Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation to explain what biopiracy is, presenting the case of seed patenting.

“A patent is the right of an inventor to exclude anyone from making, using, selling, distributing what he has invented. The problem is that as far as seeds are concerned, they are not an invention “, she said. “What happens is, ‘You come to me and you take the seed.’ And then you patent it and say, ‘I created it and now you’re paying me royalties.’ biopiracy.”

The bioresources found in rich countries – seeds, plants, animals and even chemical compounds – have long been natural resources extracted during colonization, when empires plundered the territories they occupied.

Patented and exported, these resources have enabled revolutionary discoveries in medicine, agriculture and even cosmetics. These advances would not have been possible without the traditional knowledge of local indigenous communities, which has often not been recognized or compensated for it.

The issue of biopiracy has become more complex with the digitization and online storage of genetic data from bioresources. This thorny subject could threaten the global agreement on biodiversity currently being negotiated in Montreal at COP15 (until December 19).

Controversy around a remedy to fight malaria

The issue of ownership and benefit sharing is at the heart of this debate. Why should wealthy countries take the lion’s share of revenue from the rich biodiversity of poor countries?

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) attempted to answer this question as early as 1993: one of its objectives was “the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources”. But that did not stop cases of biopiracy after it came into force.

French researchers published in 2005, for example, preliminary results of their trip to Guyana where they conducted interviews to learn more about local remedies for malaria. In 2015, the French Research Institute for Development (IRD) obtained a patent from the European Patent Office (EPO) for a compound derived from quinine from Cayenne, a plant native to parts of Central America and from South America.

The same year, the Danielle-Mitterrand Foundation filed an appeal against this patent, denouncing a “clear case” of biopiracy. The IRD “appropriated traditional knowledge and did not recognize the contribution of indigenous and local populations to research”, she also explained.

Although the researchers discovered the anti-malarial compound in the plant using an alcohol-based extraction – rather than the traditional infusion of the plant in tea – it was initially local knowledge that guided them. to cayenne quinine.

Guyana and the IRD finally agreed on a retroactive agreement stipulating that the Institute would share any potential scientific and economic benefit linked to this compound. But in 2018, the EPO decided that the IRD could keep the patent. The latter can therefore always prohibit local communities from commercially exploiting the remedy.

In 2014, just one year before the IRD was granted a patent, a legally binding international agreement came into force: the Nagoya Protocol. The latter obliges countries to share fairly and equitably the benefits arising from the use of biological resources. But this agreement is not retroactive, the research carried out by French scientists in 2005 did not fall within this framework.

Some 137 states around the world have ratified the Nagoya Protocol, but countries like the United States, Canada and Russia abstained.

The Problems Posed by Digital Sequencing Information

The Digital Sequencing Information (DSI) of genetic data has been revolutionary for many reasons: discovery of new therapies against AIDS, creation of GMOs, acceleration of the creation of tests and vaccines against Covid-19…

These technological advances also come with complications. The benefits of research using bioresources are supposed to return to the country of origin in order to preserve its biodiversity. But with the ISN, traceability becomes blurred. Amber Hartman Scholz, a researcher at the Leibniz Institute DSMZ in Germany, believes that the question of sharing these benefits “is a gray area”.

With or without a patent, scientists are required to disclose and upload their data to public databases. So when a patent is filed and the ISN is published, it creates tension. Several countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean have argued that open-access DSI has become a loophole for big pharma to avoid sharing their profits.

This situation is currently leading to an impasse, according to Amber Hartman Scholz: “The countries of the South are saying that they will not accept the framework (of the COP15 agreement, editor’s note) if they do not obtain an agreement on the (benefits from) ISNs, and northern countries say they won’t accept an ISN deal if southern countries don’t accept the framework.”

The concern could stem from existing loopholes in the Nagoya Protocol: rather than being fair and equitable, some countries do not regulate access to their genetic resources and disadvantage countries with stricter regulations in this regard. “It’s an inconsistent international system,” says Amber Hartman Scholz. “Commercial interests will find the path of least resistance. (…) This means that countries where the resource might come from will lose out in benefit sharing.”

But there is hope. Ahead of COP15, a union of African countries proposed creating a mechanism: taxing all products related to biodiversity by 1% on retail prices in order to promote dialogue on biodiversity in the field. In this case, the same rules would then apply for all countries. “The biggest challenge is to convince everyone that this is the right decision, especially at a time when inflation is on the rise,” concludes Amber Hartman Scholz.

This article has been adapted in French, you can read the original English version here.

France 24-Trans

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button