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Biopiracy in the Amazon

Source: Phytomedica List Manager [], a Brazilian NGO based in the state of Acre, has developed a special section of its website focusing on local problems of biopiracy: The pages are available in Portuguese and English.

Biopiracy means not only the smuggling of diverse forms of flora and fauna, but also mainly the appropriation and monopolization of traditional population's knowledge and biological resources. Biopiracy causes the loss of control of traditional populations over their resources. In the Amazon region this is not a new phenomenon! This joint knowledge must not be seen as a commodity that can be sold or bought.

In the last years, through the advance of biotechnology, the facilitating of registering international trademarks and patents as well as international agreements on intellectual property, such as TRIPs, the possibilities of such exploitation have multiplied. has been establishing contacts between rural producers in the Amazon and buyers of sustainable products abroad. In the course of these activities we encountered obstacles due to trademarks and patents on certain products. These products are considered great potentials for the sustainable development of the Amazon region. The finding of these facts led us to the publication of these pages.

The objectives of these pages are:

  • To alert the public about some new cases of patents and trademarks, such as Cupuaçu, Andiroba and Copaíba. We consider these cases worrisome because of their negative impacts on the traditional communities' commercial activities, and the sustainable development of the Amazon region. The case is the patent of Ayahuasca is emphasized because it offends the cultural identity of indigenous peoples in the region.
  • To create strong alliances of farmers and indigenous peoples, in the fight against misappropriation and monopolization of their resources and knowledge, as well as the fight against the colonial exploration of biological diversity of the Amazon.
  • To contribute to more transparency in the discussion about biopiracy, that extends from vague suspicions to conspiracy theories, many times lacking objectivity. For more information, please contact:
  • Michael F. Schmidlehner

    For questions or comments email:

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