Group presents 'awards' for bio-piracy


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 14 Feb 2004

BY MICHAEL CHEANG

KUALA LUMPUR: With a hearty cry of “Yo-ho-ho and a clutch-full of contracts,” a couple dressed as Captain Hook and Tinker Bell announced the culprits for the most infamous and malevolent bio-piracy acts in the past year, at a biodiversity conference here, yesterday. 

Among the “laureates” to get the Captain Hook Awards for Bio-Piracy 2004 were Brazilian president Luis Inلcio Lula da Silva, the United States, Dutch corporation Soil and Crop Improvement and chemical giant Monsanto. 

The awards were presented by the so-called Coalition Against Bio-Piracy (CAB), an informal group of civilians and peoples’ organisations, on the sideline of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, a United Nations-backed conference bringing some 2,000 government delegates, scientists and environmentalists to discuss ways to curtail extinction and preserve Earth’s diversity of life. 

Dressed up as the characters from Peter Pan, John Thomas and Alywin Darlen Arnejo of CAB presented the awards, which included the most outrageous act of bio-piracy, the greediest offenders and the worst threat to human diversity. 

The worst corporate offender award went to Monsanto, for a European patent on sot milling wheat that is derived from a traditional Indian wheat variety, claiming not just the wheat, but also the flour, the dough and all edible products produced from it. 

Thomas (second from left) and Arnejo (far right) dressed as Hook and Tinkerbell at the Convention on Biological Diversity at PWTC Friday.

The announcement was greeted with boos and cries of, “Give us back our chapatti!” from an Indian delegate among the crowd. 

Lula da Silva was the recipient for the “worst betrayal” due to Brazil’s proposal to open the Amazon region to genetically-modified crops. 

The US was deemed the “worst national disgrace” for promoting the commercial exploitation of its national parks and championing the patenting of biological resources. 

The most outrageous bio-piracy activity award went to Soil and Crop Improvement, for seeking to negotiate joint ownership of Ethiopian teff (a small cereal grain used to make bread) varieties with the Ethiopian government, and claiming to have acquired intellectual property for growing the crop and production of all its products. 

CAB also gave out their Cog Awards for Opposing Piracy (cogs were ships designed to repel pirate attacks), which recognised efforts in fighting bio-piracy.  


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