Focus on biopiracy

Friday, 01 October 2010

The Nordic countries have been active for many years in the bioprospecting activities. Today’s rather liberal attitude should be tightened up in the future, particularly if the abuse, known as biopiracy, increases.

Bioprospecting is an activity whereby pharmaceutical companies, for example, collect natural resources, perhaps in fungal form, from another country. The company then produces a new medicine and patents the product. If the patent is granted the country of origin may lose the right to its own genetic natural resource.

The issue is essentially about access and rights to the natural resources and who actually owns the world’s biodiversity. There are many perceptions of bioprospecting and international legislation in the area varies also.
The liberal Nordic approach to natural resources is documented today, for example, in the Calmar Declaration. This unique Nordic agreement from 2003 addresses access and rights to genetic resources in the Nordic countries.

This very topical question will be the focus of a seminar in the Nordic Council of Ministers in Copenhagen on 25 April. The internationally recognised scientist David Leary from Australia will present his view on bioprospecting in areas with no national jurisdiction such as the Arctic and the Antarctic.

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