The article (Ashish Kothari, “Knowledge documentation: Kiss of death, or new lease of life?”) looks at the Indian government initiative to document all traditional knowledge on biodiversity and natural resources – to safeguard against biopiracy. Guat Hong Teh, IP Specialist from CAS-IP based in Malaysia, spotted the article and made the following comment:
After reading this news article, I spoke to Paul Quek of Bioversity who has been working for the past 10 years or so with the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) in East Malaysia on documenting TK of indigenous people there. I wanted to see if, closer to home, we have made any progress on this front and have experiences that we could share with the wider community. I was made to understand that documentation has been pioneered by SBC but the challenge now is to see where we could go from here. It is unclear, for instance, how one can deal with the following questions: (a) How can communities bargain effectively for use of their TK; (b) What is the regulatory/other mechanisms in place to facilitate this process, safeguard potential abuses, and encourage further research on TK so that these knowledge can be used and improved upon by both the indigenous community and scientists?; and (c) What guidelines/policies are available to research scientists working with communities to ensure appropriate attribution, sharing of benefits from use, and continuous development of existing knowledge?