CBD again

lou jost loujost@yahoo.com
Sun, 11 Sep 2011 06:51:32 PDT
This is a great discussion. As an immigrant to a "third world" country, I just want to give people some perspective on how these developing countries (or at least the regulatory authorities in these countries) think about the CBD. I am not endorsing their position, just reporting it.

Because of the long exploitative colonial history of most of these countries, there is a strong sentiment that foreigners should no longer be allowed to come into these countries, take something of value back to their own country, and make money on it, without giving anything back to the country of origin. That is what the CBD expresses; conservation is not its motivation (on this side of the aisle).

What they call "biopiracy" is especially irritating in the case of medicinal plants or animals (eg some frogs), because the people who take these things often make use of local knowledge, and then when they get back home, they patent the medicine, or even trademark the local name, sometimes make millions, and charge a lot for it here in the country where the plant is native. They often do not realize the amount of testing needed, nor the amount of investigation and technology that goes into identifying and extracting the active ingredient. But the perception is one of profiteering off their resources. 

However, the  unworkability of the CBD is not usually mentioned. Most plants occupy more than one country. If a plant discovered in Ecuador turns out to be profitable and later is also found  in Colombia, do 50% of the profits that were shared with Ecuador have to be returned and given to Colombia? 

The real irony of the CBD when applied to whole plants for horticulture is that large segments of the economy of every country in the world depend on non-native plants that were "stolen" from other countries. In the central Andean valley of Ecuador, where most of the people live, there are virtually no native trees left. Forestry is based on eucalyptus taken from Australia and pines taken from California,  Europe, and elsewhere. Cattle and sheep and goats, all taken from Eurasia. Corn is an important crop, taken from Mexico. Wheat taken from Eurasia. Rice taken from N America. Bananas, the export that Ecuador is best known for, taken from Asia. Huge profits are made on all these products, orders of magnitude greater than any money made off ornamental plants. Should they be paying the rest of the world a portion of those agricultural and forestry profits!? If not, why should other countries be obliged to do so? That inconsistency is my biggest problem
 with the CBD. 

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