January 04, 2006

Captain Hook Awards for Biopiracy 2006

Captain Hook and fellow crooks are in Curitiba where cogs* are keeping the COPs in line at the UN’s Biodiversity Convention

The Coalition Against Biopiracy exposed the globe's nastiest biopirates and rewarded the most steadfast resistors at the Captain Hook Awards on 24 March 2006 during the meeting of the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Curitiba, Brazil. This ETC Group Communique provides a detailed description of the 2006 award winners.


After more than a decade of negotiations, the CBD has yet to provide meaningful regulations to stop biopiracy – the monopolization of genetic resources and knowledge taken from the farming communities and peoples that have developed and nurtured those resources. The Captain Hook Awards for Biopiracy are given out at the meeting of the CBD’s COP to draw international attention to the Convention’s failure to put human rights above monopoly rights and for continuing to propagate the myth that equitable benefit sharing is achievable in the context of predatory patent regimes. Cog awards are given to those institutions, peoples’ organizations, governments and individuals who have fostered real opposition to biopiracy, defeated predatory patents or defended the intellectual and cultural integrity of farmers and Indigenous Peoples.


The CBD has provided a framework that facilitates the plunder of diversity because it legitimates intellectual property on life forms and fails to fully recognize Farmers’ Rights and collective indigenous rights, including customary forms of knowledge and diversity exchange. The greatest current threat to diversity exchange is the move by the governments of Canada, Australia and New Zealand (joint winners of this year’s Captain Hook award in the “Access of Evil” category) to undermine the CBD’s six-year old  de facto moratorium on Terminator technology. The “suicide seeds” are being developed to prevent farmers from re-using seed from their harvest, in order to maximize seed industry profits and to force farmers to return to the commercial seed market for every planting. Seed sterilization technologies are the most brilliant jewel in the biopirates’ treasure chest.


At COP8, governments must demonstrate they care more about protecting and respecting the custodians of biodiversity than about fostering bilateral benefit sharing and meeting the needs of a few powerful economic actors in the gene business. The strongest evidence of a  commitment to biodiversity would be establishing an all-out ban on Terminator technology.


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