Out of Africa: Mysteries of access and benefit sharing PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Thursday, 28 January 2010 12:21

In late 2005 the Edmunds Institute and the African Centre for Biosafety contacted famed bio-pirate hunter Jay McGowan to investigate incidences of access and benefit sharing in Africa. Despite many constraints on the research, McGowan found a plethora of incidents where transnational corporations had utilised African biodiversity without concluding benefit sharing agreements with the local communities or countries they had acquired them from. In a personal note attached to his report, McGowan concluded:

'It's a free-for-all out there, and until the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) solve the problems of access and benefit sharing, the robbery will continue. They've got to declare a moratorium on access until a just protocol on access and benefit sharing is finished and implemented…until that work is done, the bio-pirates will keep on shouting in the ears of their victims, “There's no such thing as biopiracy!”'

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GM Cassava fails in Africa PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Thursday, 28 January 2010 12:18

The Donald Danforth plant science centre (the 'Danforth Centre'), who's partners include Monsanto corporation, has been pursuing disease-resistant Cassava since 1999 for its projects in Kenya. Despite initially claiming a breakthrough, the group has subsequently conceded (on the 26th of May, 2006) that its GM virus resistant Cassava has now lost resistance to the African Cassava Mosaic Virus (CMVD).

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Africa - The new frontier for the GE industry PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Monday, 25 January 2010 17:35

The genetic engineering (GE) industry is facing a shrinking global market as more and more countries adopt biosafety laws and GE labeling regulations. Africa and Asia are the new frontiers for exploitation by the agro-chemical, seed and GE corporations. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) appears to be at the forefront of a US marketing campaign to introduce GE food into the developing world. It has made it clear that it sees its role as having to 'integrate biotechnology into local food systems and spread the technology through regions in Africa'. Through USAID, in collaboration with the GE industry and several groups involved in GE research in the developed world, the US government is funding various initiatives aimed at biosafety regulation and decision-making in Africa, which, if successful, may put in place weak biosafety regulation and oversight procedures. USAID is also heavily involved in funding various GE research projects in a bid to take control of African agricultural research.

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Pelargonium Patent Challenge against Dr. Willmar Schwabe PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Friday, 15 January 2010 10:51

On the 25th and 26th January 2010, the ACB will give evidence at a hearing at the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich, Germany. The hearing concerns a patent challenge by the ACB on behalf of a rural community in Alice, South Africa, in collaboration with Swiss NGO the Berne Declaration.

The patent being challenged is one granted to Dr. Willmar Schwabe GmbH ('Schwabe') and Company by the EPO on the 26 September 2002. The patent is in respect of a method for producing extracts of pelargonium sidoides and perlagonium reniforme ('Patent A') to make Schwabe's blockbuster cough and colds syrup, Umckaloabo. The main claim in the patent is in respect of a procedure (percolation and maceration) for the production of an excerpt from pelargonium with an aqueous-ethanol solvent (10-92% ethanol). This procedure is not only commonly used in the phytomedicine sector but also for eons by traditional healers from the Alice community.

The effect of the patent is to give Schwabe exclusive right in the countries that are parties to the European Patent Convention (EPC) over the next 20 years, to make, sell or import/export the active ingredients of the pelargonium roots that have been extracted by water and alcohol.


Documents pertaining to the Case
Nr Document Filed by Downloads
1 Notice of opposition EP 1 429 795 B1 ACB Download 92.30 Kb
2 Notice of Opposition by Dr Dolder obo ACB and Berne Declaration dated 10 March 2008 Dr Older Download 54.32 Kb
3 Reply filed by Dr Willmar Schwabe dated 18 December 2008 Dr Schwabe Download 188.05 Kb
4 Summons to hearing by EPO dated 22 September 2009 EPO Download 25.98 Kb
5 Preliminary opinion by Opposition Division of EPO EPO Download 64.51 Kb
6 Reply by Dr Dolder obo ACB and Berne Declaration dated 20 November 2009 Dr Dolder Download 121.06 Kb

Background documents
Nr Document Downloads
1 ACB Briefing Paper: Knowledge Not For Sale: Umckaloabo and the Pelargonium Patent Challenges Download 699.14 Kb
2 ACB's Frequently Asked Questions on the Pelargonium Patent Challenges Download 699.14 Kb

Nr Document Downloads
1 Fact Sheet on Pelargonium Patent Challenges, ACB, Berne Declaration EED, January 2010
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2 Biopiracy Under Fire: The pelargonium Patent Hearing   Download 990.40 Kb

Media Documents
Nr Document Downloads
1 Pelargonium Hearing; Media Invitation
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2 Photographs
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Africa's Green Revolution Drought Tolerant Maize Scam PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 08:33

Prediction of exacerbated drought in Africa due to climate change is apparently the driving force behind the establishment of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) initiative, another prong of the so-called “New Green Revolution for Africa”. WEMA seeks to develop drought tolerant maize varieties through a program which is being presented as a panacea for solving issues of hunger on the continent using marker assisted breeding and genetic engineering. That this is being done under the guise of philanthropy sidesteps questions about the real causes of hunger, disregards issues of imbalanced global distribution of food and underplays the financial benefits to be derived by the various proponents of the scheme. The possible risks to small-scale farmers, whom WEMA targets, include loss of biodiversity through gene flow, a dependence on expensive inputs into farming, possible exposure to intellectual and property rights claims and impacts on their food security. The most effective ways of supporting small-scale farmers is through agro-ecological approaches to farming. These focus on small-scale sustainable agriculture; locally adapted seed and ecological farming that better addresses the complexities of climate change, hunger, poverty and productive demands on agriculture in the developing world.

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