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6-Genetech §§: Monsanto urges African countries to develop access&benefit sharing legislation



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TITLE:  Massive smuggling of rare Kenyan plants cited
SOURCE: The Nation, Kenya
DATE:   July 16, 1999

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Massive smuggling of rare Kenyan plants cited

NAIROBI - At least 18,000 species of rare plants have been
smuggled out of the country by prospectors since 1987, an
environmental workshop heard yesterday. Mrs G. Thitai of the
Genetic Resource Expert Working Group aid the plants include
coffee, barley, parsley and various fruits and vegetables. Mrs
Thitai was speaking at a workshop on protection of plant genetic
resources being held at the National Museums of Kenya. Access to
genetic resources outside protected areas has taken place easily
without locals benefitting and must now stop," said Mrs Thitai.
The expert said large quantities of plant species have left the
country since 1964 through false permits "worsened by lack of
knowledge on the importance of genetic resources."

The law requires bio-prospectors to leave a duplicate of species
collected with a reputable research institution. However this has
been overlooked by both locals and foreigners, she said. Mrs
Thitai criticised Kenya's environmental laws, saying it only
addressed issues in a sectarian manner ignoring issues of access
rights and benefit sharing.

Delivering a paper on access to plant genetic resources and
benefit sharing, Mr. Steve Collins of Monsanto, Central Africa,
supported empowering local communities in the management and use
of genetic resources. The communities, Mr. Collins said, must be
compensated whenever the resources under their jurisdiction are
used for research and commercial purposes. He urged African
countries to develop laws governing commercial use of genetic
resources to ensure they benefitted from bio-technology. The
director of the Kenya Industrial Property Office, Prof Norah
Olembo, urged African governments to unite and lobby against
exploitation by foreigners.



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