Biodiversity is a treasure of resources which are unequally distributed around the world. In areas of high biological diversity, indigenous people have contributed to the development and preservation of knowledge of biological resources. But these resources are increasingly necessary to the development of life science-based industries in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical and agribusiness markets.
Biopirates, « pirates of life », are pillaging a new kind of wealth, that of biodiversity and the knowledge and techniques of rural and indigenous peoples. Biopiracy is the appropriation of plants and seeds from biodiversity – rich countries. It is also the stealing of knowledge about these plants. It is undertaken by pharmaceutical, cosmetics and agro-business firms who obtain patents, having copied the techniques of an Amazonian shaman, an Indian small farmer or a South African healer.
Biopiracy raises questions that link into a number of the 21st century’s crucial issues. Amongst others, it has been seen a form of neo-colonialism, the commercialisation of life or one of liberalism’s most worrying trends.
For France Libertés, fighting bio-piracy and preserving natural resources and knowledge, is at the very heart of a true “societal choice”.
It is time to act. Around the world initiatives are emerging that refuse biopiracy and encourage projects that are respectful of peoples’ rights and those of the environment.