Science in Society Archive

Biopatents

Biopiracy Rampage in South Africa

Diversa Corporation acquired access to the biodiversity of South Africa by obtain environmental samples for genetic research. Diversa is expanding its microbial genomic libraries to develop products for the pharmaceutical, agricultural, chemical and industrial markets. It already has access to regions such as Alaska, Costa Rica, Bermuda, Indonesia, Yellowstone National Park, and Russia, and is the worlds largest "bio-prospecting" company.

South Africa is one of the world's most biologically diverse environments and includes the famous Cape Floristic Region, which contains over 9,000 plant species, 70% of which are endemic.

The African agreement gives Diversa the right to discover genes and commercialise products provided by CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research), a research organization currently undertaking nearly 10% of all research and development activities on the African Continent. In exchange, Diversa will support the ongoing bioprospecting activities of CSIR and pay royalties on any revenues that come from developed products.

Diversa's strategic partners include The Dow Chemical Company, Novartis Seeds AG, Novartis Agribusiness Biotechnology Research, Inc., Aventis Animal Nutrition S.A., Celanese Ltd., Invitrogen Corporation, and Danisco Cultor.
Source: GENET-news. December 7, 2000. Diversa signs first agreement granting legal access to biodiversity in Africa. Diversa, USA, http://www.diversa.com/presrele/currrele/20001207.asp


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