Patent fears

Scientists in Karnataka are forced by the administration to abandon efforts towards documenting the biodiversity knowledge of indigenous people

Published: Sunday 31 October 1999

PATENT rights from local communities, the Karnataka government has reportedly restrained some scientists from documenting biodiversity and indigenous assets of the people. The government is of the view that if the locals became aware of the commercial value of their produce they would go for patents and hence the restraint.
However, Madhav Gadgil of the Indian Institute of Science (iis), Bangalore, who completed a pilot project of recording the biodiversity and indigenous knowledge of 57 Indian villages, has denied these reports. He however said that "the reluctance on the part of some government officials would not have any serious implications on the project.
A brainchild of some scientists from the iis and the Karnataka State Science Council, the documentation process was planned to enable conservation of biodiversity and to claim royalties for local people who have legitimate rights over them. The scientists had already completed a pilot project of recording the wealth of biodiversity in 57 villages across the country, including eight villages of Karnataka.

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