‘’BIOPIRACY’’: A Modern form of Enclosure


The survival of Indigenous people have been threatened by logging, dam projects, urbanization, large scale agriculture and industrial expansion, sometimes leading to conflict. Issues ranging from economic globalization, to climate change, all have an impact on the survival of indigenous people and environmental sustainability. In the last two decade, Biological Piracy (Biopiracy) has emerged as an issue of concern among indigenous communities and conservationists, as biological resources which were once held in common become property of multinational corporations.

Quite recently, due to the growing influence of pharmaceutical industries local/indigenous communities are losing control of their forest and biological resources. They have been stripped off their right to use, control and manage these resources. In other parts of the world, such as India, Brazil, Thailand, and Malaysia, multinational companies have been accused of participating in what has come to be known as “biopiracy”. Biological resources used by indigenous communities for many generations have been patented away, leaving the local people deprived of their own way of life, without any forms of adequate compensation.

Farmers and indigenous peoples are outraged that plants that they developed and protect have being ‘hijacked’ by pharmaceuticals companies. It is with little surprise that diverse groups are now intensifying their campaign against corporate patenting of living things. A global opposition to biological piracy’ is creating awareness about big corporations reaping massive profits from using knowledge and biological resources of indigenous communities. There is growing public outrage about the granting of patents for products that uses genetic materials, plants and other biological resources that have long been identified, developed and used by farmers and indigenous peoples. Whilst the corporations stand to make huge revenues from this process, the local communities are unrewarded and in fact face the threat of losing control of the environment that holds their very survival in the future.

The knowledge and use of ‘biodiversity’ for centuries resides with farmers and indigenous people, who have shared their knowledge and plants freely. Yet through patent applications, the companies are now claiming the exclusive right to produce and sell ‘modified’ versions of plants and animals, with no regards to the people that own these resources. Indigenous communities now forced to pay high prices for materials, which they in some cases, have developed and preserved. The knowledge, innovation and efforts of these communities are not acknowledged when legal ‘intellectual property rights’ systems grant patents on genetic and biological materials to corporations. This injustice is now a course for concern to farmers, indigenous people and public interest groups. Legal concerns have been raised on the phenomenon of ‘biopiracy’ and indigenous groups and farmers are also getting together to protest these developments. Recently, legal challenges have been filed against Patents granted on Biological Products.

For centuries, indigenous people have accumulated important knowledge about the use of botanical/biological resources for traditions remedy and cure. This was and is still part of the culture that defines who they are and their ways of life. It allowed indigenous people to work with nature rather than destroy it. For the fact that they are dependent on their natural


One Response to “‘’BIOPIRACY’’: A Modern form of Enclosure”

  1. diwuoha1 Says:

    Interesting! All the pharmaceuticals companies care about is how to make profits and not about the local people.

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