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BIOPIRACY

Biopiracythe illegal acquisition of indigenous knowledge, genes, animals, plants and other biological materials in order to capitalize on them.

The rise of biopiracy in the PHL: Why we have everything to loseBySHAIRA PANELAAugust 20, 2014

Dr. Baldomero Olivera is a Filipino scientist who studied cone snail toxins, leading to the discovery of the non-addictive painkiller Zicotonide in the 70's.Dr. Lourdes Cruz, a national scientist and Olivera's partner on the study, said that the discovery did not have a patent.

Here are some other things that Pinoys take for granted but are now owned by foreign concerns: nata de coco, ilang-ilang-based perfume, a banaba-derived anti-diabetic drug, local specimens of eggplant and ampalayaall have been patented abroad.

Biodiversity, blessing and bane

When it comes to biopiracy, the Philippines' blessing and bane is its rich biodiversity: the sheer abundance of local flora and faunato say nothing of indigenous knowledgemake for practically unlimited resources that are difficult if not impossible to keep track of in their entirety.

But Blancaflor said the government is on its way for an inventory of natural resources and indigenous knowledge.

Government Measures

The Philippines has Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act penalizing the collection and possession of wildlife and its by-products and derivatives. However, it does not fully address the problem on biopiracy.

"Mayroon na tayong mga policies na sinet-up, but then again, for us to be able to effectively implement it, hindi lang dapat aware lahat ng kababayan natin para kasama rin natin sila sa pagbabantay sa mga resources na ito.

-Theresa Mundita Lim, head of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-BMB)

Nagoya Protocol

The Nagoya Protocol is an agreement by various countries which provides a transparent legal framework to implement "the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources," one of the objectives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity

House Bill 3163 filed by Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez Sato and House Bill 2425 filed by AGRI Party-list Representative Delphine Gan Lee adhere to the measures covered by the Nagoya Protocol

Misconcepcion on Patents

Another way to protect the rights of the scientists and their discoveries is to file patents. Patents are exclusive rights granted by the government for a product, process to exclude others from using, making and/or selling the invention within 20 years.

"We have what we call PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) na madali nang mag-file kahit na almost 200 countries na kasama rito. Di na kailangang lumabas ng Pilipinas, dito ka na magfa-file sa Pilipinas," - Atty. Ricardo Blancaflor of the IPOPHIL.

"If there were good communication between young Filipino scientists... and some kind of reasonably knowledgeable scientific group within the Philippines, then I think one can be proactive and protect it and make sure that the Philippines earned a stake at a very early stage," with Jan Meynard Nualla/TJD, GMA News