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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Intellectual property rules must be changed to stop ‘biopiracy’ undermining poverty reduction, say MEPs

The European Parliament’s development committee has agreed to Green Party proposals to tighten international rules designed to protect the developing world from ‘biopiracy’ – the commercial development of naturally occurring biological materials, such as plant substances or genetic cell lines, by a technologically advanced country or organisation without fair compensation to the peoples or nations in whose territory the materials were originally discovered.

London Green Party MEP Jean Lambert said: “Biopiracy is a major problem in developing countries, flying in the face of poverty reduction measures, especially for indigenous communities.

“Traditional genetic resources are essential for sustainable agriculture and food security in developing countries, as well as for species survival and ecosystem resilience.”

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South-East England and a member of the Development Committee, said: “In spite of its vital importance for human survival, genetic diversity is being lost at an alarming rate. All countries have a responsibility to tackle this and the EU must play an active role.

“The recently-concluded Nagoya Protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 1 sets out key provisions for addressing biopiracy, notably on access and benefit-sharing, prior informed consent and mutually-agreed terms – the EU must ratify the protocol immediately.

“But ultimately, the answer must lie in reform of the WTO’s ‘TRIPS’ agreement on intellectual property rights to require patent applicants to disclose the origin of any genetic resources and traditional knowledge used in invention.”