Bioprospecting is the process of discovery and commercialization of new products based on biological resources. Despite indigenous knowledge being intuitively helpful, bioprospecting has only recently begun to incorporate such knowledge in focusing screening efforts for bioactive compounds.[1] Between 1981-2010, one third of all small molecule new chemical entities approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were either natural products or compounds derived from natural products.

Bioprospecting may involve biopiracy, the exploitative appropriation of indigenous forms of knowledge by commercial actors, and also includes the search for previously unknown compounds in organisms that have never been used in traditional medicine before.[2]

Catharanthus roseus white CC-BY-SA
A white Rosy Periwinkle


Biopiracy was coined by Pat Mooney,[3] to describe a practice in which indigenous knowledge of nature, originating with indigenous peoples, is used by others for profit, without authorization or compensation to the indigenous people themselves.[4] For example, when bioprospectors draw on indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants which is later patented by medical companies without recognizing the fact that the knowledge is not new, or invented by the patenter, and depriving the indigenous community to the rights to commercial exploitation of the technology that they themselves had developed.[5] Critics of this practice, such as Greenpeace,[6] claim these practices contribute to inequality between developing countries rich in biodiversity, and developed countries hosting biotech firms.[5]

In the 1990s many large pharmaceutical and drug discovery companies responded to charges of biopiracy by ceasing work on natural products, turning to combinational chemistry to develop novel compounds.[3]

Famous cases

The Maya ICBG controversy

The Maya ICBG bioprospecting controversy took place in 1999–2000, when the International Cooperative Biodiversity Group led by ethnobiologist Brent Berlin was accused of being engaged in unethical forms of bioprospecting by several NGOs and indigenous organizations. The ICBG aimed to document the biodiversity of Chiapas, Mexico and the ethnobotanical knowledge of the indigenous Maya people – in order to ascertain whether there were possibilities of developing medical products based on any of the plants used by the indigenous groups.[7][8]

The Maya ICBG case was among the first to draw attention to the problems of distinguishing between benign forms of bioprospecting and unethical biopiracy, and to the difficulties of securing community participation and prior informed consent for would-be bioprospectors.[9]

The rosy periwinkle

The rosy periwinkle case dates from the 1950s. The rosy periwinkle, while native to Madagascar, had been widely introduced into other tropical countries around the world well before the discovery of vincristine. This meant that researchers could obtain local knowledge from one country and plant samples from another. The use of the plant for diabetes was the original stimulus for research. Effectiveness in the treatment of both Hodgkin's Disease and leukemia were discovered instead.[10] Different countries are reported as having acquired different beliefs about the medical properties of the plant.[11] The Hodgkin's lymphoma chemotherapeutic drug vinblastine is derivable from the rosy periwinkle.[12]

The neem tree

A neem tree

In 1994, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and WR Grace received a European patent on methods of controlling fungal infections in plants using a composition that included extracts from the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), which grows throughout India and Nepal.[13][14][15] In 2000 the patent was successfully opposed by several groups from EU and India including the EU Green Party, Vandana Shiva, and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) on the basis that the fungicidal activity of neem extract had long been known in Indian traditional medicine.[15] WR Grace appealed, and lost that appeal in 2005.[16]

The Enola bean

"Enola" Bean 4 (3887465932)
The Enola bean

The Enola bean is a variety of Mexican yellow bean, so called after the wife of the man who patented it in 1999.[17] The allegedly distinguishing feature of the variety is seeds of a specific shade of yellow. The patent-holder subsequently sued a large number of importers of Mexican yellow beans with the following result: "...export sales immediately dropped over 90% among importers that had been selling these beans for years, causing economic damage to more than 22,000 farmers in northern Mexico who depended on sales of this bean."[18] A lawsuit was filed on behalf of the farmers, and on April 14, 2005 the US-PTO ruled in favor of the farmers. An appeal was heard on 16 January 2008, and the patent was revoked in May 2008. An appeal to the court against the revocation was unsuccessful (Decided October 2).

Basmati rice

In 2000, the US corporation RiceTec (a subsidiary of RiceTec AG of Liechtenstein) attempted to patent certain hybrids of basmati rice and semidwarf long-grain rice.[19] The Indian government intervened and several claims of the patent were invalidated.


Hoodia gordonii GS431
The succulent Hoodia

Hoodia, a succulent plant, originates from the Kalahari Desert of South Africa. For generations it has been known to the traditionally living San people as an appetite suppressant. In 1996 South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research began working with companies, including Unilever, to develop dietary supplements based on hoodia.[20][21][22][23] Originally the San people were not scheduled to receive any benefits from the commercialization of their traditional knowledge, but in 2003 the South African San Council made an agreement with CSIR in which they would receive from 6 to 8% of the revenue from the sale of Hoodia products.[24]

In 2008 after having invested €20 million in R&D on hoodia as a potential ingredient in dietary supplements for weight loss, Unilever terminated the project because their clinical studies did not show that hoodia was safe and effective enough to bring to market.[25]

Further cases

The following is a selection of some of the further cases in recent biopiracy studies. Most of them do not relate to traditional medicines.

Legal and political aspects

Patent law

One common misunderstanding is that pharmaceutical companies patent the plants they collect. While obtaining a patent on a naturally occurring organism as previously known or used is not possible, patents may be taken out on specific chemicals isolated or developed from plants. Often these patents are obtained with a stated and researched use of those chemicals. Generally the existence, structure and synthesis of those compounds is not a part of the indigenous medical knowledge that led researchers to analyze the plant in the first place. As a result, even if the indigenous medical knowledge is taken as prior art, that knowledge does not by itself make the active chemical compound "obvious," which is the standard applied under patent law.

In the United States, patent law can be used to protect "isolated and purified" compounds – even, in one instance, a new chemical element (see USP 3,156,523). In 1873, Louis Pasteur patented a "yeast" which was "free from disease" (patent #141072). Patents covering biological inventions have been treated similarly. In the 1980 case of Diamond v. Chakrabarty, the Supreme Court upheld a patent on a bacterium that had been genetically modified to consume petroleum, reasoning that U.S. law permits patents on "anything under the sun that is made by man." The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has observed that "a patent on a gene covers the isolated and purified gene but does not cover the gene as it occurs in nature".[27]

Also possible under US law is patenting a cultivar, a new variety of an existing organism. The patent on the enola bean (now revoked) was an example of this sort of patent. The intellectual property laws of the US also recognize plant breeders' rights under the Plant Variety Protection Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2321–2582.[28]

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The CBD came into force in 1993. It secured rights to control access to genetic resources for the countries in which those resources are located. One objective of the CBD is to enable lesser-developed countries to better benefit from their resources and traditional knowledge. Under the rules of the CBD, bioprospectors are required to obtain informed consent to access such resources, and must share any benefits with the biodiversity-rich country.[29] However, some critics believe that the CBD has failed to establish appropriate regulations to prevent biopiracy. Others claim that the main problem is the failure of national governments to pass appropriate laws implementing the provisions of the CBD.[30] The Nagoya Protocol to the CBD (negotiated in 2010, expected to come into force in 2014) will provide further regulations. The CBD has been ratified by all countries in the world except for Andorra, Holy See and United States. The 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and the 2001 International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture are further relevant international agreements.

Bioprospecting contracts

The ethical debate has sparked a new branch of international patent and trade law. Bioprospecting contracts lay down the rules, between researchers and countries, of benefit sharing and can bring royalties to lesser-developed countries. However, although these contracts are based on prior informed consent and compensation (unlike biopiracy), not all owners or carriers of an indigenous knowledge and resources are consulted or compensated.[31] Unethical bioprospecting contracts (as distinct from ethical ones) can be viewed as a new form of biopiracy.

An extensively discussed example of a bioprospecting contract is the agreement between Merck and INBio of Costa Rica.[32]

On June 14, 2011, Colombia approved a policy for the sustainable commercial use of its biodiversity resources, primarily through the development of biotechnology research. It includes plans to set up a national company for bioprospecting to link up with the commercial sector and will be backed with US$14 million in government funds over the next four years.[33][34]

Traditional knowledge database

In response to concerns of biopiracy raised by research into turmeric, neem and basmati rice, the Government of India has been translating and publishing ancient manuscripts containing old remedies in electronic form, and in 2001 the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library was set up as a repository of 1200 formulations of various systems of Indian medicine, such as Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha.[26][35] The texts are being recorded from Tamil, Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian and Arabic; made available to patent offices in English, German, French, Japanese and Spanish. The aim is to protect India's heritage from being exploited by foreign companies. Hundreds of yoga poses are also kept in the collection. The project has been criticized by a spokesman for the pharmaceutical industry as "a solution in search of a problem". The library has also signed agreements with leading international patent offices such as European Patent Office (EPO), United Kingdom Trademark & Patent Office (UKTPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office to protect traditional knowledge from biopiracy as it allows patent examiners at International Patent Offices to access TKDL databases for patent search and examination purposes.[26][36][37] The database is not available to the general public, but the articles to which it refers are (though typically in a not widely understood language such as Sanskrit). In this way the database prevents subsequent patenting without making the information to which it refers readily available for public use.

See also


  1. ^ Saslis-Lagoudakis, C. Haris; Savolainen, Vincent; Williamson, Elizabeth M.; Forest, Félix; Wagstaff, Steven J.; Baral, Sushim R.; Watson, Mark F.; Pendry, Colin A.; Hawkins, Julie A. (25 September 2012). "Phylogenies reveal predictive power of traditional medicine in bioprospecting". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (39): 15835–15840. doi:10.1073/pnas.1202242109. PMC 3465383. PMID 22984175. Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2018 – via
  2. ^ Cluis, Corinne (2013). "Bioprospecting: A New Western Blockbuster, After the Gold Rush, the Gene Rush". The Science Creative Quarterly (8). The Science Creative Quarterly (University of British Columbia). Archived from the original on 2014-04-30. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  3. ^ a b Paterson, Russell; Lima, Nelson (2016-12-12). Bioprospecting : success, potential and constraints. Paterson, Russell,, Lima, Nelson. Cham, Switzerland. ISBN 9783319479354. OCLC 965904321.
  4. ^ Park, Chris; Allaby, Michael. A dictionary of environment and conservation (3 ed.). [Oxford]. ISBN 9780191826320. OCLC 970401188.
  5. ^ a b Wyatt, Tanya (2012). "Biopiracy". Encyclopedia of Transnational Crime & Justice. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc. p. 30. doi:10.4135/9781452218588.n11. ISBN 9781412990776.
  6. ^ "Agriculture and Food". Green Peace Australia Pacific: What We Do: Food. Greenpeace. Archived from the original on 2008-09-19. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  7. ^ Cori Hayden (2003). When Nature Goes Public: The Making and Unmaking of Bioprospecting in Mexico. Princeton University Press. pp. 100–105. ISBN 978-0-691-09556-1. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  8. ^ Feinholz-Klip, Dafna; García Barrios, Luis; Cook Lucas, Julie (2009). "The Limitations of Good Intent: Problems of Representation and Informed Consent in the Maya ICBG Project in Chiapas, Mexico". In Wynberg, Rachel; Doris Schroeder; Roger Chennells. Indigenous Peoples, Consent and Benefit Sharing. Springer Netherlands. pp. 315–331. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-3123-5_17. ISBN 978-90-481-3123-5.
  9. ^ James V. Lavery (2007). "Case 1: Community Involvement in Biodiversity Prospecting in Mexico". Ethical Issues in International Biomedical Research: A Casebook. Oxford University Press. pp. 21–43. ISBN 978-0-19-517922-4. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  10. ^ Hafstein, Valdimar Tr (26 July 2004). "The Politics of Origins: Collective Creation Revisited". Journal of American Folklore. 117 (465): 300–315. doi:10.1353/jaf.2004.0073. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2018 – via Project MUSE.
  11. ^ "A traditional brew leads to cancer cure". Smithsonian Institution: Migrations in history: Medical Technology. Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on 2014-06-21. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  12. ^ Karasov, C. (2001). "Who Reaps the Benefits of Biodiversity?". Environmental Health Perspectives. 109 (12): A582–A587. doi:10.2307/3454734. JSTOR 3454734. PMC 1240518. PMID 11748021.
  13. ^ "Method for controlling fungi on plants by the aid of a hydrophobic extracted neem oil". Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  14. ^ Karen Hoggan for the BBC. May 11, 2000 Neem tree patent revoked Archived 2013-12-26 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b Cormac Sherida. Nature Biotechnology 23(5):511-12. May 2005. EPO neem patent revocation revives biopiracy debate Archived 2005-12-15 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ BBC News, March 9, 2005 India wins landmark patent battle Archived 2011-06-01 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ L. Pallottini; E. Garcia; J. Kami; G. Barcaccia; P. Gepts (1 May 2004). "The Genetic Anatomy of a Patented Yellow Bean". Crop Science. 44 (3): 968–977. doi:10.2135/cropsci2004.0968. Archived from the original on 18 April 2005.
  18. ^ Goldberg, Danielle (2003). "Jack and the Enola Bean". TED Case Studies Number xxx. Danielle Goldberg. Archived from the original on 2013-11-10. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  19. ^ "Rice lines bas 867 rt1117 and rt112". Archived from the original on 30 April 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  20. ^ Maharaj, VJ, Senabe, JV, and Horak, RM. 2008. Hoodia, a case study at CSIR. Science real and relevant: 2nd CSIR Biennial Conference, CSIR International Convention Centre Pretoria, 17&18 November 2008, pp 4 [1]"Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-04-12. Retrieved 2012-05-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ Rachel Wynberg; Doris Schroeder; Roger Chennells (30 September 2009). Indigenous Peoples, Consent and Benefit Sharing: Lessons from the San-Hoodia Case. Springer. ISBN 978-90-481-3123-5. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  22. ^ Vermeylen, Saskia (2007). "Contextualizing 'Fair' and 'Equitable': The San's Reflections on the Hoodia Benefit-Sharing Agreement". Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability. 12 (4): 423–436. doi:10.1080/13549830701495252.
  23. ^ Wynberg, Rachel (2013-10-13). "Hot air over Hoodia". Grain: Publications: Seedling. Grain. Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  24. ^ Foster, Laura A. (April 2001). "Inventing Hoodia: Vulnerabilities and Epistemic Citizenship in South Africa" (PDF). UCLA Center for the Study of Women: CSW update. UCLA Center for the Study of Women. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-04-30. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-13. Retrieved 2014-04-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ a b c "Know Instances of Patenting on the UES of Medicinal Plants in India". PIB, Ministry of Environment and Forests. May 6, 2010. Archived from the original on May 10, 2010.
  27. ^ "Department of Commerce: United States Patent and Trademark Office [Docket No. 991027289-0263-02] RIN" (PDF), Federal Register: Notices, Office of the Federal Register of the National Archives and Records Administration, 66 (4), pp. 1092–1099, 2001-01-05, archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-02-24, retrieved 2013-11-04
  28. ^ Chen, James Ming (2006). "The Parable of the Seeds: Interpreting the Plant Variety Protection Act in Furtherance of Innovation Policy". Notre Dame Law Review. 81 (4): 105–166. SSRN 784189.
  29. ^ CBD stating that the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources should be shared in a fair and equitable way (Rau, 2010) Archived 2014-08-12 at the Wayback Machine/
  30. ^ "Policy Commissions". International Chamber of Commerce: About ICC. International Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  31. ^ Shiva, Vandana (2007). "Bioprospecting as Sophisticated Biopiracy". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 32 (2): 307–313. doi:10.1086/508502. ISSN 0097-9740.
  32. ^ Eberlee, John (2000-01-21). "Assessing the Benefits of Bioprospecting in Latin America" (PDF). IDRC Reports Online. IDRC. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  33. ^ Fog, Lisbeth (2011-06-07). "Columbia to commercialise its biodiversity". Sci Dev Net: Global: Biodiversity: News. SciDev.Net. Archived from the original on 2014-04-30. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  34. ^ "Política Para El Desarrolo Comercial De La Biotecnología A Partir Del Uso Sostenible De La Biodiversidad" (PDF), Documento Conpes (in Spanish), Bogotá: Consejo Nacional de Politica Económica y Social, República de Columbia, Departamento Nacional de Planeación, 3697, 2011-06-14, archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-06-10, retrieved 2013-11-04
  35. ^ "Traditional Knowledge Digital Library". Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  36. ^ Koshy, Jacob P. (2010-04-28). "CSIR wing objects to Avesthagen patent claim". Companies. Live Mint. Archived from the original on 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  37. ^ "India Partners with US and UK to Protect Its Traditional Knowledge and Prevent Bio-Piracy" (Press release). Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. 2010-04-28. Archived from the original on 2013-05-31. Retrieved 2013-11-04.

Bibliography and resources

  • The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (United Nations Environment Programme) maintains an information centre which as of April 2006 lists some 3000 "monographs, reports and serials".
  • Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (United Nations Environment Programme), Bibliography of Journal Articles on the Convention on Biological Diversity (March 2006). Contains references to almost 200 articles. Some of these are available in full text from the CBD information centre.
  • Shiva, Vandana (1997). Biopiracy : The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge. South End Press.
  • Jim Chen (2005). "Biodiversity and Biotechnology: A Misunderstood Relation". Michigan State Law Review. 2005: 51–102. SSRN 782184.

External links

Access and Benefit Sharing Agreement

An Access and Benefit Sharing Agreement (ABSA) is an agreement that defines the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. ABSAs typically arise in relation to bioprospecting where indigenous knowledge is used to focus screening efforts for commercially valuable genetic and biochemical resources. ABSAs recognise that bioprospecting frequently relies on indigenous or traditional knowledge, and that people or communities who hold such knowledge are entitled to a share of benefits arising from its commercial utilization.


An airshed is a part of the atmosphere that behaves in a coherent way with respect to the dispersion of emissions. It typically forms an analytical or management unit. Also: a geographic boundary for air-quality standards.

Alternatively - an airshed is a geographical area where local topography and meteorology limit the dispersion of pollutants away from the area.

Arthrobacter agilis

Arthrobacter agilis is a psychrotrophic bacterium species from the genus of Arthrobacter which occurs in lake water and Antarctic sea ice. Arthrobacter agilis produces dimethylhexadecylamine and carotenoid.Arthrobacter agilis is a plant growth promoting and cold active hydrolytic enzymes producing psychrotrophic bacterium, isolated from Pangong Lake, a subglacial lake in north western Himalayas, India. Genome analysis revealed metabolic versatility with genes involved in metabolism and cold shock adaptation, utilization and biosynthesis of diverse structural and storage polysaccharides such as plant based carbon polymers. The genome of Arthrobacter agilis strain L77 consists of 3,608,439 bp (3.60 Mb) of a circular chromosome. The genome comprises 3316 protein coding genes and 74 RNA genes, 725 hypothetical proteins, 25 pseudo-genes and 1404 unique genes. The candidate genes coding for hydrolytic enzymes and cold shock proteins were identified in the genome. Arthrobacter agilis strain L77 will serve as a source for antifreeze proteins, functional enzymes and other bioactive molecules in future bioprospecting projects.


BIOPROSP International Conference on Marine Bioprospecting is a biennial conference on bioprospecting from cold marine environment that is held in the university town of Tromsø in Northern Norway. Conference has been organized since 2002 and it has already established itself as one of Europe's top conferences in the field of marine bioprospecting. Oceans cover 71% of the planet's surface and offer human necessities such as food and energy. More than 90% of the marine biodiversity remains unexplored. This offers a huge potential for applications in a wide range of products such as drugs, ingredients, supplements, bioprocessing, energy, green chemicals and biomaterials.The economical outcome of R&D in marine biotechnology is expected to generate a 10% annual growth, as assessed by Blue Growth H2020. BIOPROSP Conference aims at bringing together scientists and industry representatives and addressing issues of how to translate basic research into applied research on possible industrial applications.

Barents Sea

The Barents Sea (Norwegian: Barentshavet; Russian: Баренцево море, Barentsevo More) is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean, located off the northern coasts of Norway and Russia and is divided between Norwegian and Russian territorial waters. Known among Russians in the Middle Ages as the Murman Sea ("Norwegian Sea"), the sea takes its current name from the Dutch navigator Willem Barentsz.

It is a rather shallow shelf sea, with an average depth of 230 metres (750 ft), and is an important site for both fishing and hydrocarbon exploration. The Barents Sea is bordered by the Kola Peninsula to the south, the shelf edge towards the Norwegian Sea to the west, and the archipelagos of Svalbard to the northwest, Franz Josef Land to the northeast and Novaya Zemlya to the east. The islands of Novaya Zemlya, an extension of the northern end of the Ural Mountains, separate the Barents Sea from the Kara Sea.

Despite being part of the Arctic Ocean, the Barents Sea has been characterized as "turning into the Atlantic" because of its status as "the Arctic warming hot spot." Hydrologic changes due to global warming have led to a reduction in sea ice and in stratification of the water column, which could lead to major changes in weather in Eurasia.

Brent Berlin

Overton Brent Berlin (born 1936) is an American anthropologist, most noted for his work with linguist Paul Kay on color, and his ethnobiological research among the Maya of Chiapas, Mexico.

He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1964. Until recently, Berlin was Graham Perdue Professor of Anthropology at the University of Georgia, where he was also director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and co-director for the Laboratories of Ethnobiology.His work alongside Paul Kay on the 1969 publication of Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution built on the ideas of Lazarus Geiger in the field of color terminology research and has been highly influential in anthropology, linguistics and cognitive sciences. Berlin and Kay concluded that the number of basic color terms in the world's languages are limited and center on certain focal colors, assumed to be cognitively hardwired.He led the Maya ICGB project, a bioprospecting consortium, supported by the Biodiversity Program for the National Institutes of Health, which was closed in 2001 after accusations of failure to obtain adequate informed consent from the Maya community from which he obtained indigenous knowledge. These allegations were primarily driven by a Canadian-based political activist organization, known at the time as RAFI.

He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1981.

Department of Biotechnology

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) is an Indian government department, under the Ministry of Science and Technology responsible for administrating development and commercialisation in the field of modern biology and biotechnology in India. It was set up in 1986.Through several research and development projects, demonstrations, grants and creation of infrastructural facilities a clear visible impact of this field has been seen. The department has made significant achievements in the growth and application of biotechnology in the broad areas of agriculture, health care, animal sciences, environment, and industry. The proven technologies at the laboratory level have been scaled up and demonstrated in field.

Patenting of innovations, technology transfer to industries and close interaction with them have given a new direction to biotechnology research in India. Initiatives have been taken to promote transgenic research in plants with emphasis on pest and disease resistance, nutritional quality, silk-worm genome analysis etc.

On the other hand, molecular biology of human genetic disorders, brain research, plant genome research, development, validation and commercialisation of diagnostic kits and vaccines for communicable diseases, food biotechnology, biodiversity conservation and bioprospecting, setting up of micropropagation parks and biotechnology based development for SC/ST, rural areas, women and for different States. Organisation's mandate and the centres of excellence that it has set up to achieve this goal are listed below.


Ethnobotany is the study of a region's plants and their practical uses through the traditional knowledge of a local culture and people. An ethnobotanist thus strives to document the local customs involving the practical uses of local flora for many aspects of life, such as plants as medicines, foods, and clothing. Richard Evans Schultes, often referred to as the "father of ethnobotany", explained the discipline in this way:

Ethnobotany simply means ... investigating plants used by societies in various parts of the world.

Since the time of Schultes, the field of ethnobotany has grown from simply acquiring ethnobotanical knowledge to that of applying it to a modern society, primarily in the form of pharmaceuticals. Intellectual property rights and benefit-sharing arrangements are important issues in ethnobotany.

Intellectual rights

Intellectual rights (from "French: droits intellectuels") is a term sometimes used to refer to the legal protection afforded to owners of intellectual capital. This notion is more commonly referred to as "intellectual property", though "intellectual rights" more aptly describes the nature of the protections afforded by most nations.

Both terms were used in Europe during the 19th century as a means of distinguishing between two different views of intellectual protection. "Intellectual property" was generally used to advocate a belief that copyrights and patents should provide rights similar to physical property rights. The term "intellectual rights" was used by those who felt that such protection should take the form of temporary, limited grants.

Although most modern copyright systems do not treat copyrighted or patented materials in the same way as real property, the term "intellectual property" has gained prominence. For more on this subject, see "intellectual property".

Also, at least three different kinds of capital and rights are involved:

creativity (individual capital) which implies rights to benefit from one's free expression

invention (instructional capital) which implies rights to benefit from having created some more efficient device or process

reputation (social capital) which implies rights not to have one's name or specific distinguishing tagline or ethic sullied by imitators or rivalsAll three capital terms predate the term intellectual capital, which appears to be a 19th-century artifact of early, now-discredited, economic theory.

In 20th-century Europe also originated another more modern approach, intended to sweep away the differences between the historical "Intellectual Property" and "Intellectual Rights" camps, allowing every creator both perpetual and temporary rights:

Moral rights became the unalienable part of the rights every author was entitled to. These rights could generally not be waived;

All other intellectual property rights were to become both limited in time and tradeable.Note that this is one of the chief differences between U.S. and EU approach towards Intellectual property rights up till the early 21st century, in that the crystallisation of this modern approach (the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works) is still only partially put in practice in the U.S., and, where applied, this is done largely outside the legislation regarding IP.

International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups

International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (or ICBG) is a program under National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation and USAID established in 1993 to promote collaborative research between American universities and research institutions in countries that harbor unique genetic resource in the form of biodiversity - the practice known as bioprospecting. The basic aim of the program is to benefit both the host community and the global scientific community by discovering and researching the possibilities for new solutions to human health problems based on previously unexplored genetic resources. It therefore seeks to conserve biodiversity, and to foment, encourage and support sustainable practices of usage of biological resources. Groups are headed by a principal investigator who coordinates the efforts of the research consortium which often has branches in the US and the host country as well as in the countries of other third party institutions. There are currently International Cooperative Biodiversity groups operating in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Papua-New Guinea. The Maya ICBG, a group dedicated to collecting the ethnobiological knowledge of the Maya population of Chiapas, Mexico led by Dr. Brent Berlin was closed in 2001 after two years of funding after accusations of having failed to obtain prior informed consent.

Linnaean enterprise

The Linnaean enterprise is the task of identifying and describing all living species. It is named after Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, ecologist and physician who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of taxonomy.

As of 2006, the Linnaean enterprise is considered to be barely begun. There are estimated to be 10 million living species, but only about 1.5-1.8 million have been even named, and fewer than 1% of these have been studied enough to understand the basics of their ecological roles. Linnaean enterprise plays a larger role in applied science and basic science. With applied science, it can assist in finding new natural products and species (bioprospecting) and effective conservation practices. It allows for an understanding of evolutionary biology and how ecosystems function in basic science.

The cost of completing the Linnaean Enterprise has been estimated at US$ 5 billion.

Maya ICBG bioprospecting controversy

The Maya ICBG bioprospecting controversy took place in 1999–2000, when the International Cooperative Biodiversity Group led by ethnobiologist Dr. Brent Berlin was accused of engaging in unethical forms of bioprospecting (biopiracy) by several NGOs and indigenous organizations. The ICBG had as its aim to document the biodiversity of Chiapas, Mexico and the ethnobotanical knowledge of the indigenous Maya people – to ascertain whether there were possibilities of developing medical products based on any of the plants used by the indigenous groups.

While the project had taken many precautions to act ethically in its dealings with the indigenous groups, the project became subject to severe criticisms of the methods used to attain prior informed consent. Among other things critics argued that the project had not devised a strategy for achieving informed consent from the entire community to which they argued the ethnobotanical knowledge belonged, and whom they argued would be affected by its commercialization. The project's directors argued that the knowledge was properly to be considered part of the public domain and therefore open to commercialization, and they argued that they had followed established best practice of ethical conduct in research to the letter. After a public discussion carried out in the media and on internet listervers the project's partners pulled out, and the ICBG was closed down in 2001, two years into its five years of allotted funding.

The Maya ICBG case was among the first to draw attention to the problems of distinguishing between benign forms of bioprospecting and unethical biopiracy, and to the difficulties of securing community participation and prior informed consent for would-be bioprospectors.

Michelle Rogan-Finnemore

Michelle Rogan-Finnemore is the Executive Secretary of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes (COMNAP) which is the international association which brings together the National Antarctic Programs that make up its members. She is also the namesake of Finnemore Peak.

Nicolas-Joseph Thiéry de Menonville

Nicolas-Joseph Thiéry de Menonville (Saint-Mihiel, France, 18 June 1739 – Port-au-Prince, Saint-Domingue, 1780), avocat at the Parlement of Paris, was a French botanist who volunteered to be sent to Mexico in 1776 to steal the cochineal insect valued for its scarlet dye. In his clandestine bioprospecting piracy, he worked without official papers and would have been ruthlessly treated had he been caught. He succeeded in naturalizing the insect and the prickly pear (Opuntia) "nopal" cactus on which it depended in the French colony of Saint-Domingue.His colorful Voyage à Guaxaca (Oaxaca) narrates his adventure, in which he played upon the smugness and venality of the colonial Spanish. After arriving in Saint Domingue, he obtained papers identifying him as a botanizing physician and declared himself in search of the botanicals necessary for his treatment of gout. He herbalized in Havana, awaiting transport to Mexico, and on his arrival in Veracruz in January 1777, endeared himself locally by identifying the "true" jalap – a useful drug that was imported expensively, even though locally abundant. Sensing that something was wrong, the viceroy ordered him to leave, unwilling "to open to strangers the secrets of the country". Thiéry de Menonville, with the image of Jason and the Golden Fleece constantly in his mind's eye, slipped over the ramparts of Veracruz one evening and set out, in the guise of a Catalan in order to account for his Frenchified Spanish and his dress, for Oaxaca where the best cochineal was produced.

In Oaxaca, he purchased from Indians and blacks the insects and the cacti they parasitize, and some pods of vanilla, which he jumbled among commonplace herbal specimens in his collecting case. Once safely ashore in Saint Domingue he established a plantation of the nopal cactus in the botanical garden, the jardin du roi that he established at Port-au-Prince and sent further cactus pads and cochineal insects to the scientific academy at Cap Français. With the success of the adventure he was rewarded with the title of Botaniste du roi and an annuity of 6000 livres. However, within two years of his return he was dead of "malignant fever" at the age of forty-one.As well as vanilla, Thiéry de Menonville brought with him to Saint Domingue jalap of Mexico, indigo seeds of Guatemala, and cotton seeds from Veracruz; in his travels he also noted the strangely beautiful flowers he had seen there, dahlias as they turned out to be, in his official report, published in 1787, after his death, by the academy at Cap-Haïtien, previously named Cap‑Français (initially Cap-François).

OMICS Publishing Group

OMICS Publishing Group is a predatory publisher of open access journals. It started publishing its first journal in 2008. By 2015, it claimed over 700 journals, although about half of them were defunct.

Its subsidiaries include iMedPub LTD and Conference Series LLC LTD. Other organisations linked to OMICS are EuroSciCon Ltd, Allied Academies, Trade Science Inc, and Meetings International.OMICS has come under attack by numerous academics and the United States government over the validity of the peer review by OMICS journals, the appropriateness of its fees and marketing, and the apparent advertising of the names of scientists as journal editors or conference speakers without their knowledge or permission. The U.S. National Institutes of Health sent a cease-and-desist letter to OMICS in 2013, demanding it to discontinue with false claims of affiliation with U.S. government entities or employees. In August 2016 OMICS became the first academic publisher to be sued by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), for deceptive practices.

OMICS has responded to criticisms by avowing a commitment to open access publishing, claiming that detractors are traditional subscription-based publishers who feel threatened by their open access publishing model. It responded to the FTC suit by maintaining that their practices were legal and claiming that corporate interests were driving the suit. It has also threatened a prominent critic, Jeffrey Beall, with a US$1 billion lawsuit for defamation.

Palpu Pushpangadan

Palpu Pushpangadan (born 23 January 1944) is a former Director of the Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute (TBGRI) in Kerala. He is also a former Director of the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow and Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram. He received the Padmashri Award from the Government of India in 2010.Born on 23 January 1944 at Prakkulam in Kollam district in Kerala, Pushpangadan is known for his contribution to plant sciences. He has got multidisciplinary training in cytogenetics, plant breeding, bioprospecting, biotechnology, conservation biology, ethnobiology, ethnopharmacology and pharmacognosy.

He has published about 317 research papers/articles in various national and international journals, authored/edited 15 books, contributed 41 chapters in books in taxonomy, plant breeding, conservation biology, biotechnology, ethnobiology, ethnopharmacology and IPR, etc. Filed/Awarded 85 patents in herbal drugs/products jointly with other scientists. 15 of his patented products are already commercialized.


Prospecting is the first stage of the geological analysis (second – exploration) of a territory. It is the physical search for minerals, fossils, precious metals or mineral specimens, and is also known as fossicking.

Prospecting is a small-scale form of mineral exploration which is an organised, large scale effort undertaken by commercial mineral companies to find commercially viable ore deposits.

Prospecting is physical labour, involving traversing (traditionally on foot or on horseback), panning, sifting and outcrop investigation, looking for signs of mineralisation. In some areas a prospector must also make claims, meaning they must erect posts with the appropriate placards on all four corners of a desired land they wish to prospect and register this claim before they may take samples. In other areas publicly held lands are open to prospecting without staking a mining claim.

Siddha medicine

Siddha medicine (Tamil: சித்த மருத்துவம், citta maruttuvam ?) is a system of traditional medicine originating in ancient Tamilakam (Tamil Nadu) in South India and Sri Lanka.Traditionally, it is taught that the siddhars laid the foundation for this system of medication. Siddhars were spiritual adepts who possessed the ashta siddhis, or the eight supernatural powers. Agastyar is considered the first siddha and the guru of all siddhars; the siddha system is believed to have been handed over to him by Shiva.The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy of the Government of India coordinates and promotes research in the fields of ayurveda and Siddha medicine. The Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM), a statutory body established in 1971 under AYUSH, monitors higher education in areas of Indian medicine, including Siddha medicine. To fight bioprospecting and unethical patents, India set up the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library in 2001 as a repository of 223,000 formulations of various systems of medicine common in India, such as ayurveda, unani, Siddha medicine and homeopathy.

Venomous fish

Venomous fish produce strong mixtures of toxins harmful to humans (called venom) which they deliver by means of a bite, sting, or stab. This results in an envenomation. As a contrast, poisonous fish also produce a strong toxin, but they do not bite, sting, or stab to deliver the toxin. Instead they are poisonous to eat because the human digestive system does not destroy the toxin they contain in their body. Venomous fish don't necessarily cause poisoning if they are eaten, since the digestive system often destroys the venom.There are at least 1200 species of venomous fish. There are more venomous fish than venomous snakes and indeed more than the combined total of all other venomous vertebrates. Venomous fish are found in almost all habitats around the world, but mostly in tropical waters. They injure over 50,000 people every year.They carry their venom in venom glands and use various delivery systems, such as spines or sharp fins, barbs, spikes and fangs. Venomous fish tend to be either very visible, using flamboyant colors to warn enemies, or skilfully camouflaged and maybe buried in the sand. Apart from the defense or hunting value, venom helps bottom dwelling fish by killing the bacteria that try to invade their skin. Few of these venoms have been studied. They are a yet to be tapped resource for bioprospecting to find drugs with medical uses.

Non-governmental and
political organizations
Legal representation
Historical cases
By owner
By nature
(key work)

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.