UCT Seminar on Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights

Pelargonium. Copyright: African Centre for Biosafety

On the 26th of August, the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit of the University of Cape Town (UCT) held a seminar on “Traditional knowledge, intellectual property rights power and benefit sharing: case studies/evidence from pelargonium, rooibos and hoodia.” Natural Justice and the African Centre for Biosafety were invited to attend the series and present on their work with African Indigenous peoples and local communities.

Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) presented on the South African Rooibos–Nestle and San-Hoodia case studies. During his presentation, Gino also highlighted how biocultural community protocols have been used by some communities in Africa, Asia and South America to convey their ways of life, values, and customary laws to third parties and challenge the fragmentary nature of state law and incorporate community integrated perspectives.

Mariam Mayet, Director of the African Centre for Biosafety, presented on her work with communities in South Africa to oppose and eventually defeat an attempt by German pharmaceutical giant Schwabe to file patents over the use of pelargonium for the treatment of coughs and Tuberculosis without obtaining the consent of the communities who are the holders of the traditional medicinal knowledge of pelargonium.

Following the presentation and discussion with members of the University of Cape Town, Natural Justice met with the Legal Resource Centre, the African Centre for Biosafety, and the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit to discuss how South African communities could protect their traditional knowledge in relation to the use of pelargonium.

27 August 2011


South Africa

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