Biology in Asia International Conference, 7-10 Dec 2004, Singapore Biodiversity, Ecology & Conservation Symposium
BIOPIRACY VERSUS BIOPROSPECTING: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS AND THE PROTECTION OF ETHNOBOTANICAL KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS
L. Jan Slikkerveer
Leiden Ethnosystems And Development Programme (LEAD), Institute of Cultural and Social Studies & Leiden University Branch of the National Herbarium of The Netherlands, Pieter de la Court Building, Wassenaarseweg 52, P.O. Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands
Abstract With the growing recognition and revitalization of Indigenous Knowledege Systems (IKS), and particularly with regard to local peoples' knowledge and practices concerning medicinal, aromatic and cosmetic (MAC) plants, recently encapsulated in the concept of Ethnobotanical Knowledge Systems (EKS), advances in biotechnology have led to a general resurgence of natural productbased research. Although the major international agreement on biological diversity, established in Articles 8 (j) and 18(4) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 1993) is to provide general concessions to indigenous peoples and local communities so as to respect and preserve their indigenous knowledge and lifestyles relevant to the sustainable use of resources, and also to encourage benefit sharing, the implementation of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) to protect indigenous knowledge, and particularly with regard to MAC plants, is still challenged by various obstacles. Following a review of a number of recent proposals to use IPRs to protect the systems of indigenous knowledge and technology, this paper seeks to elaborate on a proposal to protect and preserve EKS pertaining to a model of bioprospecting and self-determination of use of MAC plants in developing countries. In my proposal, special attention will be given to the implications of the 'ethno-directed approach' based on traditional healers and specialists' knowledge used in the identification and analysis of indigenous medicinal plants for the new drug development in industrialised countries.