Peruvian region outlaws biopiracy – the first law of its kind in the world?
The article link above from SciDevNet talks about a new law in the Cusco region of Peru which will mean:

“corporations or scientists must now seek permission from, and potentially share benefits with…local people”

The article goes on to say that:

“local scientists and activists believe the law’s value lies in the fact that for the first time a regional government will be empowered to challenge its national government on biopiracy”

There are a number of comments from Dr Michel Pimbert of the  International Institute for Environment and Development.

“Pimbert said that the most significant aspect of the law is that it shows progress can be made at a regional level, rather than working through “central governments that have become increasingly distant and unaccountable to citizens in many countries throughout the world”.”

Here is a link to the item as it appeared on the IIED site.

The IIED also link out to a site where the full text of the law (in Spanish) can be found.

3 responses to “Peruvian region outlaws biopiracy – the first law of its kind in the world?

  1. In recent years, Cusco regional government has been very active in passing regulations that help protect biodiversity in the region. The fact that el Parque de la Papa and the active NGO ANDES are located in Cusco region might be one of the reasons.
    After having a quick reading of the text, I think that this legal instrument actually creates a monopoly over all the genetic resources and the traditional knowledge which is very similar to the monopoly granted by a patent. Under this law, indigenous communities’ rights as the “owners” of this monopoly are very similar to patent owners’ rights. I have the impression that many access laws are getting too close to intellectual property rights in their principles and the way they operate. Without judging if this is right or wrong, I would like just to say that this seems a paradox to me, as representatives from indigenous communities normally complain about patents and about using patents and other classic intellectual property rights to protect their knowledge on genetic resources.
    One very interesting thing of the text is that it puts most of the decision making responsibilities on the indigenous communities and their representatives, while regional government agencies remain as mere observers of the process. From my point of view, this is an impressive and interesting case of a public body empowering indigenous communities and delegating usual public tasks to them.
    I wonder how this regional law will be implemented vis-à-vis the national legislation on access and benefit-sharing in Peru. Will the applicant have to fulfill both legislations and get access permits from both the national and the regional government?
    In any case, I think this is an interesting initiative and a positive sign of the level of awareness on genetic resources issues among policy makers in Cusco regional government.

  2. The Ordenanza Regional 048-2008-CR/GR.CUSCO surely represents a significant change for regulating access to genetic resources since it is a Regional Governement who has had the initiative for establishing the process for resources withing its jurisdiction (Cusco). However, questions remain regarding how this law should be implemented along with other national laws issued on the same matter (Andean Decision 486 and its Regulations). The fact that Regional Governements are autonomus does not mean that they are able to dictate their regulations without taking into consideration national regulations. Peru certainly is not a federal state and the Peruvian Constitution establishes hierarchy of the laws above Regional regulations. Apart from this legal aspect that needs to be resolved or at least cleared, the enactment of such law clearly represents the aim of going forward in the subject and this has both political and social aspects involved.

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