The classic exemplar of the evils of modern capitalism is the pharmaceutical industry, extorting vast sums from the most vulnerable as they rush to create a new cartel beyond the dreams of the corporate bucaneers of yore.
Rushing drugs to market armed with tests performed by bought-and-paid-for academics isn’t enough for them.
Now they’re busily grabbing up the plants traditional cultures have relied on for their own pharmacopeia.
Consider their latest target, via teleSUR English:
The production and consumption of natural Andean and Amazonian ancestral products in Peru is threatened by the “biopiracy” of foreign companies who have filed over 11,690 patents for the domestic produce of the region, effectively poaching the natural heritage of the country. The resources are said to be rich in nutrients and vitamins and range from those with anti-aging properties to those that act as natural aphrodisiacs.
Small farmers could be among those worst affected if foreign companies obtain the patents. “Campesinos have been guardians of seeds and diversity generation after generation, from our ancestors to our fathers we have inherited the seeds,” said Director of the National Association of Ecological Products of Peru Moises Quispe.
“We campesinos are very conscious about it. These seeds are part of our lives, and if there’s a new owner who patents them for their own economic interests, it’s a very worrying situation.”
Peru has 4,400 species of native plants with various uses, including 1,200 which have medicinal properties. The products that have the highest number of patents filed are Tara with 3,989, Yacon with 3,211, Maca with 1,406, Cat’s Claw with 843, Cascarilla with 648 and Purple Corn with 294, among 23 others. The data was collected by the state-run National Commission Against Biopiracy, but they only monitor 35 of the 4,400 species facing this threat.