Amazon nations must protect the region's riches and knowledge from "biopirates" seeking to patent the rainforest's biological riches, an Ecuadorean official said Friday.
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil Amazon nations must protect the region's riches and knowledge from "biopirates" seeking to patent the rainforest's biological riches, an Ecuadorean official said Friday.
"We have to protect biodiversity from companies from big countries that want to patent products from Amazon countries," said Rosalia Arteaga Serrano, secretary general of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization.
Delegates of seven Amazon nations met here Thursday and Friday to discuss cooperation in protecting intellectual property rights and "harmonize" their legislation to better protect the region's natural riches.
The Amazon Basin covers some 6.2 million square kilometers (2.39 million sq. miles) and holds about 16 percent of the world's fresh water and about 30 percent of the world's plant and animal species.
Artega pointed to a recent case where a Japanese country trademarked the name of the Amazon fruit "Cupuacu," which is endemic to Brazil, effectively making it illegal for local producers to market the product under its own name.
Brazil challenged that patent and it was later nullified.
Santiago Roca, President of Peru's National Institute for the Protection of National Property said his country was currently reviewing some 500 patents based on substances endemic to the Peruvian rainforest and registered in the United States, Europe and Japan to see whether they were registered with the prior permission of indigenous communities.
"If we find that they were patented without the proper authorization we will ask that the patents be nullified," Roca said.
According to Roberto Jaguaribe, President of Brazil's National Institute for Intellectual Property, Peru had very strong legislation for protecting the natural resources occurring within its borders, something that was not always true across the region.
"Traditional knowledge doesn't always obey the geographic borders so we have to harmonize the legislation to value our biodiversity and avoid biopiracy," Jaguaribe said.
He said Brazil was currently reviewing all the regional names for fruits and plants to make sure these were not trademarked by companies outside of Brazil.
Source: Associated Press