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4-Patents: "Stop Biopiracy in Mexico!"

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-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  "Stop Biopiracy in Mexico!"
DATE:   October 23, 2000

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The following is a summary prepared for RAFI's listserve. Please visit 
RAFI's web site to find the complete document.

"Stop Biopiracy in Mexico!" 
Indigenous Peoples' Organizations from Chiapas Demand Immediate Moratorium
Mexican Government Says No to Bioprospecting Permits

Over one year ago, eleven indigenous peoples' organizations under the 
umbrella of the Council of Traditional Indigenous Doctors and Midwives from 
Chiapas (Consejo de Medicos y Parteras Indigenas Tradicionales de Chiapas) 
demanded the suspension of the International Collaborative Biodiversity 
Group-Maya (ICBG-Maya) - a US government-funded project aimed at the 
bioprospecting of their medicinal plants and traditional knowledge. After 
one year of fruitless talks with the ICBG-Maya and Mexican authorities, the 
Council held a press conference on September 12, 2000 to again demand the 
termination of the project.

The Council believes that indigenous people have been manipulated both by 
the Mexican authorities and the ICBG-Maya project leaders - the University 
of Georgia and ECOSUR in Chiapas. Along with the suspension of this 
particular project, the Council is demanding an immediate moratorium on ALL 
bioprospecting projects in Mexico. The moratorium should only be lifted 
once the indigenous people and Mexican society have had the opportunity to 
evaluate the impact of these projects, and once appropriate laws protecting 
genetic resources and traditional knowledge are in place. The Council's 
demands were supported by over 100 indigenous peoples', farmers' and other 
civil society organizations attending the seminar "Bioprospecting or 
Biopiracy?" held 14-15 September in Mexico City. 

In late September the Council learned that the Mexican Government has 
denied the ICBG-Maya permission to conduct bio-assays (that is, analysis of 
active compounds) on plants collected in Chiapas. For RAFI, the clear 
opposition of local indigenous groups to this project is ample reason for 
the research team to withdraw from the state of Chiapas. Now that the 
Mexican government has denied the ICBG permission to conduct bio-assays, 
the ICBG has even more reason to terminate the project. When will ICBG go 

After two years of intense local opposition, the ICBG Maya has failed to 
win the confidence of local indigenous groups or regulatory approval from 
the Mexican government. There is no consensus among the peoples of Chiapas 
that the Project should proceed. The ICBG-Maya, including the University of 
Georgia, ECOSUR and Molecular Nature should give immediate attention to an 
exit strategy and termination of the Project.

*	*	*

For additional background information on the Chiapas "Bioprospecting" ICBG 
Project, please see the following documents on RAFI's web site:

"Biopiracy Project in Chiapas, Mexico Denounced by Mayan Indigenous 
Groups," 1 December 1999.

"Messages from the Chiapas 'Bioprospecting' Dispute," 22 December 1999.

"Biopiracy - RAFI's Sixth Annual Update," RAFI Communique, May/June, 2000.

For additional information contact:

Silvia Ribeiro,
Julie Delahanty,
Pat Mooney, 

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