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[Fwd: [PermacultureUK] - Traditional knowledge - British knowledge ? Is there an indigenous (ecological) population and 'expertise' in Britain ?]

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  • Richard Morris
    ... Subject: [PermacultureUK] - Traditional knowledge - British knowledge ? Is there an indigenous (ecological) population and expertise in Britain ? Date:
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 19, 2004
      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: [PermacultureUK] - Traditional knowledge - British knowledge ?
      Is there an indigenous (ecological) population and 'expertise' in Britain ?
      Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2004 07:36:17 +0000
      From: permaculture.uk@... ("JamieSaunders")

      Traditional knowledge 'in peril'

      By Alex Kirby BBC News Online environment correspondent

      Indigenous peoples' knowledge is at risk of exploitation

      Forest lore and knowledge passed down over generations by indigenous
      peoples is open for exploitation by anyone, the United Nations
      University believes. It says a loophole in international law on
      intellectual property rights is an affront to traditional groups'
      culture. As it stands, the law says indigenous peoples keen to protect
      their secrets have to put them in the public domain. The UN researchers
      say the law amounts to a catch-22 trap, which allows the
      unscrupulous to exploit the knowledge. They outline their concerns in a
      report, The Role Of Registers And Databases In The Protection Of
      Traditional Knowledge, which is being launched at a
      meeting in Malaysia of the countries which support the UN Convention on
      Biological Diversity.

      Culture clash

      The knowledge the report covers includes commercially valuable
      understanding, developed over centuries of the medicinal and other uses
      of plants. The problem arises when regulators from national patent
      offices have to decide whether a new product which a company wants to
      patent really is new, or is based on traditional knowledge.
      To do this, they require free access to the knowledge itself. But in
      many indigenous cultures it is highly guarded.
      The knowledge is often passed down from one generation to the next
      through codes of conduct and customary law, frequently including
      initiation rights before the information is divulged.

      Different languages

      The report, from the university's Institute of Advanced Studies, says:
      "Obliging indigenous people to offer public documentation of traditional
      knowledge for intellectual property protection purposes is insensitive
      to centuries-old cultural practice in many places and may lead to
      injustice." It cites the example of a legal challenge to a patent over
      ayahuasca, a rainforest plant used in spiritual and cultural ceremonies.
      US patent regulators refused to accept the oral evidence of an Amazon
      shaman about his people's traditional knowledge of the plant's healing

      Forests are commercial treasure troves

      The report's author, Brendan Tobin, said: "The challenge for the world
      community is to devise a process to prevent the piracy of traditional
      knowledge without jeopardizing the cultural integrity and ways of
      indigenous peoples. "The UN says the example of the Inuit may be
      helpful: they maintain a very high level of secrecy, but let government
      officials have confidential access to their traditional knowledge if
      they need it. It says international law should be amended to allow
      indigenous people to provide oral evidence of traditional knowledge.

      Agreement in advance

      They should be able to give this confidentially, and access to
      confidential databases should be restricted. The report says registers
      and databases developed and held by indigenous groups, museums,
      botanical gardens and universities are essential for protecting
      traditional knowledge. But they all need a common code of conduct, for
      example making explicit acceptance of the rights of indigenous peoples
      over their knowledge a pre-condition of access to the information.
      It also says companies should have to demonstrate prior informed consent
      as a condition for scientific or commercial use of the knowledge.


      BTW the info from the Pfaf database has been put into the
      American Association for the Advancement of Science's prior
      art database. Which should protect the information by being
      pattented. Rich
      Plants for a Future: 7000 useful plants
      Web: http://www.pfaf.org/ same as http://www.comp.leeds.ac.uk/pfaf/
      Post: 1 Lerryn View, Lerryn, Lostwithiel, Cornwall, PL22 0QJ
      Tel: 01208 872 963 / 0845 458 4719
      Email: webmaster@...
      PFAF electronic mailing list http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pfaf
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