Biopiracy and the Innovations of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

Biopiracy and the Innovations of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Book Section

Indigenous Peoples’ Innovation: Intellectual Property Pathways to Development

  • Author(s): Daniel F. Robinson
  • Secondary Author(s): Peter Drahos, Susy Frankel
  • Published: 2012
  • Publisher: ANU E Press
  • ISBN: 9781921862779 (pbk.) 9781921862786 (ebook)

Abstract: Biopiracy is a divisive term, and deliberately so. The original proponent of the term, Pat Roy Mooney of the NGO Action Group on Erosion Technology and Concentration (ETC), has previously stated that ‘[w]hatever the will and wishes of those involved, there is no “bioprospecting”. There is only biopiracy.” He explains that without adequate international laws, standards, norms and monitoring mechanisms, the theft of indigenous and local knowledge will accelerate in the years to come. This chapter takes the polemical issue of biopiracy as a starting point, and explores the concepts of innovation and traditional knowledge within specific cases of bioprospecting and/or biopiracy (depending upon how or from where you view them). Specifically, the chapter demonstrates the flawed tendency by academics and policy-makers to perpetuate the ‘traditional knowledge’ and ‘modern/scientific knowledge’ dualism. The chapters in this volume were first presented at the conference ‘Intellectual Property, Trade and the Knowledge Assets of Indigenous Peoples: The Developmental Frontier’ in December 2010. Traditional knowledge systems are also innovation systems. This book analyses the relationship between intellectual property and indigenous innovation. The contributors come from different disciplinary backgrounds including law, ethnobotany and science. Drawing on examples from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, each of the contributors explores the possibilities and limits of intellectual property when it comes to supporting innovation by indigenous people.

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Suggested Citation
Daniel F. Robinson, 2012, Biopiracy and the Innovations of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, Book Section, viewed 16 June 2024,

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