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The Couachi plant – a case history of biopiracy

In 2015, France Libertés – Danielle Mitterrand Foundation filed an opposition to the European Patent Office against a patent belonging to a French public research institute called Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD). The patent in question concerns the antimalarial properties of the plant Quassia Amara.  The medicinal properties of this plant were identified in French Guiana thanks to local traditional knowledge. This is a clear case of biopiracy.

By this patent, the research institute appropriated traditional knowledge and did not recognize the contribution of the indigenous and local populations to the research. In 2018, the European Patent Office (EPO), competent to assess the case, surprisingly confirmed the patent as valid. This decision shows how little the rights of indigenous peoples are being respected.

France Libertés – Danielle Mitterrand Foundation appealed this decision which, we hope, will be reversed.