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Archived updates for Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Foreign Policy: "Preempting Piracy" by Patenting Traditional Knowledge

According to an article in the September/October 2004 issue of Foreign Policy, entitled "Preempting Piracy:"

Hoping to prevent wealthy corporations from staking patent claims to traditional remedies, some nongovernmental organizations and even a few governments are cataloging indigenous medicines and plant species in online databases. The American Association for the Advancement of Science maintains a database at that is open to traditional knowledge holders who want to preempt patenting by others. Links to similar databases can be found on the Web site of the World Intellectual Property Organization (

However, Devinder Sharma, chair of the New Delhi-based Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security, a collective of scientists, farmers, and environmentalists, argues that instead of relying on databases of traditional knowledge, developing countries should follow the example of China's government, which has secured around 12,000 patents on its own traditional medicines.

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