You are on page 1of 3

Biopiracy:

Biological resources or bioresources include all those organisms that can be used to derive
commercial benefis. Traditional knowledge of bioresources and how they can be use to treat and cure
diseases (because of the properties they contain) are commonly developed by various communities
over long periods of time. However, institutions and companies of industrialized nation are collecting
and exploiting these biological resources. Such is collectively termed as biopiracy.
To elaborate further, biopiracy is the illegal appropriation of lifemicroorganisms, plants,
animals (including humans) and the traditional knowledge that accompanies it. Biopiracy is illegal
because, in the violation of international conventions and corresponding domestic laws, it does not
recognize, respect, or adequately compensate rigthful owners of the life forms appropriated or the
traditional knowledge related to their propagation, use, and benefit. Biopiracy commonly operates
through the application of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) (primarily patents) to genetic resources
and traditional knowledge.
In the Philippines, many cases of biopiracy are evaluated especially when genomic companies
and their pharmaceutical partners are rushing to privatize the genes of plants, animals, and humans to
sell for profit. Some of these reported cases include:
The Philippine sea snail (Conus magus) has been patented by the Neurex Inc., a US-based
pharmaceutical company. The toxin coming from this snail has been isolated which is known as
the SNX-11, a pain killer that is 1,000 times more powerful than morphine.
The Philippine yew tree (Taxus sumatrana) in the mossy mountain forest of Mt. Pulag has been
patented by the University of Philadelphia to extract a substance called taxol without any
consent and permission from the owner.
The ilang-ilang (Cananga odorata) flowers in the Philippines has been imported by the French
fashion house Yves St. Laurent for 20 years and made use of its extract in their high class lines
of perfumes. Although native to many Southeast Asian countries, the species situated in the
Philippines was found to be of high quality. Just a few years ago, the Yves St. Laurent stopped
importing ilang-ilang from the Philippines, putting up its own plantations in Africa and secured
a patent for its perfume formula based on the native Filipino species.
It has been reported that the Ifugao people of the Cordillera was lured into sharing their blood
and hair samples to foreign scientists who post as medical researchers. Nothing was heared
from these scientists after collecting blood and hair samples from these ethnic group.
The most well known biopiracy in the Philippines is the theft of an antibiotic extract from the
soil in the province of Iloilo which became the world-known drug, erythromycin.

Bioethics:
Bioethics is the discipline dealing with ethical implications of both biological research and the
applications of that research associated in medicine.It has been used for the past 20 years to describe
the investigation and study of ways in which decisions in medicine and science touch upon the health,
life, socciety, and environment of the people. Ethicists ask two questions: "What is the right thing to
do?" and "What are our obligations to one another?"Bioethicists ask these questions in the context of
modern medicine and draw on a plurality of traditions, both secular and religious, to help society
understand and keep pace with how advances in science and medical technology can change the way
we experience the meaning of health and illness and, ultimately, the way we live.
Since bioethics is concerned with questions about basic human values such as the rights to life
and health, it also tackles issues on the appropriatenes of certain developments in healthcare
institutions, life technology, medicine, the health profession and the society's responsibility for the life
and health of its members. Its mpact on every level of human community from the local nursing home
to the huge international conferences or isues like human genome is closely examined.
As a whole, the field of bioethics now encapsulates a full range of concerns, from difficult
private decisions made in clinical settings, to controversies surrounding stem cell research, to
implications of reproductive technologies, to broader concerns such as international human subject
research, to public policy in healthcare, and to the allocation of scarce resources. This array of interest
is neatly summarized under the rubric of the Centers four domains: Aging and End of Life, Clinical
and Organizational Ethics, Life Sciences, and Health Issues.
Thoughts about Biopiracy (particularly in the Philippines):
The Philippines is a nation that has a rich biodiversity and traditional knowledge related to
biological resources. On the other hand, these resources have been commercially exploited by the
industrialized nations and in very cases, this has been done without providing adequate compensation.
The biopiracy of biodiversity in the Philippines is made worst in the inadequate provisions and
limited implementation of Executive Order 247 which provides policies against bioprospecting (the
search for biological resources and accompanying indigenous knowledge for the sole purpose of
commercial exploitation) without significantly recognizing the issues of biopiracy. So, as concerned
citizens of this country, we must extend our efforts to atleast combat or if not eradicate the phenomena
of biopiracy. Some of the pertinent measures we can consider are:

Get involved with local initiative to support protection for biological resources. Being able to
get in touch with the national groups which are active in the discussions about policy options
regarding this matter should be greatly imposed.
Appeal to the government to take an active participation in the protection of biological
resources and community rights to control genetic resources and indigenous knowledge.
Strengthen spirit in helping the issue of sustainability of biological resources. Give significance
to the essence of your life and the life of others.

It is not easy to stop biopiracy. Global trend in the biopiracy and the bioprospectors who are
well adept in using their updated technology for patenting natural heritage may be a paramount
obstacle for us. As such, it is of crucial importance and a matter of survival that we commit ourselves in
safeguarding the wonders of our biological resources.

University of the Philippines Baguio


College of Sciences
A.Y. 2008-2009

Biology 10

Presented by:
Marchellene B. Caday
1st Year, BA Social Sciences

Presented to:
Ms. Bella Angela C. Soriano
Instructor, Biology 10

March 12, 2009