Biopiracy in the Pacific Islands

by March 22, 2007
 

The Pacific region has long been a favourite target of gene hunters, unethical bio-researchers and 'patent bottom trawlers' looking to profit from its unique flora, fauna - and human beings.

In the last few years, a number of disconcerting events have occurred in the Pacific Islands. Among them, T-Cells from the Hagahai Tribe in Papua New Guinea were illegally obtained against the will and traditions of the Hagahai - which can now be purchased on the internet for 216 Dollars.

Aswell, in 2002 Cook Islanders were almost subjects of an experiment to transplant pig parts into humans. The author of the article pointed out that "Had it proceeded, the U.S. would have labelled the Cook Islands a 'rogue state' over fears about the potential spread of virulent pig retroviruses in humans."

From the Article: "There's been a lot of bad behaviour here. Many researchers from the outside have a colonial attitude," Mead told IPS from Wellington.

An absence of regulation and widespread naivete regarding the latest genetic technologies and intellectual patent law has made the region a major target for commercial 'gene hunters' or bio-prospectors, she says, likening gene pirates to deep-sea trawlers that scoop up everything in their path - and then claim intellectual property rights to anything they think might have commercial value in the future.

"Genes are a key resource of the new world bio-economy and our isolation and diversity makes the Pacific Islands particularly attractive," writes contributor Te Tika Mataiapo - Dorice Reid, a traditional chief from the Cook Islands. Read the full Article

Also discussed is a recent book titled "Pacific Genes and Life Patents" published by Earth Llamado de la Tierra (COE) in conjunction with the United Nations University

Here's a Press Release for the book.

You can also download the book in full. just go to this page on the COE Website. It's at the bottom of the page.

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