Biopiracy: Access and benefit sharing, Convention on Biological Diversity, Intellectual property, Nagoya protocol, genetic resources, indigenous knowledge, rights of indigenous people, international law

Phytomedicine: Pharmacognosy, phytochemistry, molecular phytopharmacology,clinical phytopharmacology and toxicology, phytotherapy of diseases, quality control of herbal products, regulatory affairs

The scope of the conference

The International Conferences on Science and Society will be a series of congresses with annually changing topics at the interface between the biosciences and the humanities. While both academic fields have their own well-established platforms of scholarly exchange, the dialogue between both is frequently not appropriately

The use of medicinal plants for therapeutic purposes is a core topic in pharmacy, pharmacology and medicine inside and outside academia. Their unprotected commercial use by companies led to severe controversies, and this problem became a hot topic of discussion in the humanities in academia and many other groups in the general public.

Therefore, we feel that “biopiracy” in the context of “phytotherapy” may be a suitable topic for interdisciplinary dialogue and exchange. We aim to exchange facts and figures to foster vivid discussion in a friendly atmosphere.

What is biopiracy?

Biopiracy mainly focuses on the use of biological resources and/or knowledge of indigenous tribes or communities without allowing them to share the revenues generated out of economic exploitation or other non-monetary incentives associated with the resource/knowledge. It was argued that the patenting of herbs or natural products by pharmaceutical corporations disregarded the ownership of the indigenous communities’ knowledge on how these substances worked.

Political endeavors to fight biopiracy

Long before the term biopiracy by was created by environmentalists and non-governmental organizations, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) promoted international attention on how necessary it was to protect indigenous knowledge in the context of intellectual property rights.

The United Nations General Assembly launched the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UN DRIP). This document described the right of indigenous tribes to control their own traditional knowledge.

The International Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) under the patronage of the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) aims to protect rights of indigenous people since the early 1990s by creating opportunities for the sustainable use of bioresources and conservation of biodiversity at the same time. This treaty, however, was not signed by several countries.

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement which aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. It entered into force on 12 October 2014.

The contribution of academia to fight biopiracy

We as academicians feel, however, that our responsibilities are even broader. If medicinal and aromatic plants derived from developing countries are investigated in laboratories of industrialized countries, it is extremely important that scientists from these countries are made a part of the venture. They should participate in the scientific advancement made in such plants. Many laboratories around the globe have brought this principle into action. However, much more effort has to be made to emphasize its urgent necessity. The scientific investigation of medicinal and aromatic plants should include both, undergraduate and post graduate students as well as postdocs and guest scientists from the countries, where the plants have been derived from. It is also mandatory from our point of view to involve scientists of the home Universities of exchange students and scientists. Bridging the gap between industrialized and developing countries by scientific collaborations between universities creates a win-win situation for all participants.

We are looking forward for your abstracts.