This week in review … India moves to protect traditional medicines

3 03 2009

India Moves to Protect Traditional Medicines

ICTSD, 25 February 2009

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The Indian government has effectively licensed 200,000 local treatments as “public property”, making the local remedies free for everyone to use, but not to be branded for sale. This initiative follows the startling discovery by scientists in Delhi of the extent of “bio-prospecting” of natural remedies by foreign companies. The UK’s Guardian newspaper reports that an investigation of government records revealed that 5,000 patents had been issued, at a cost of at least US$ 150 million for “medical plants and traditional systems.” “More than 2,000 of these belong to the Indian systems of medicine,” claims Vinod Kumar Gupta, head of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library … The move to protect traditional medicines in India mirrors a push that New Delhi, supported by countries such as Brazil, Cuba, Kenya, the EU, Pakistan and Switzerland, has made at the WTO in recent years. Specifically, the countries have demanded that the protection of biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge be integrated into the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS Agreement. Read the article …

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