Brazil: Nuts! to Biopirates
Two Brazilian states recently passed laws requiring foreign researchers to sign contracts and pay “bioroyalties” on any income they gain from the use of local plants. A national version of the law, which would also require foreign researchers to have local partners, is close to passage in the Brazilian Congress. Brazil is one of a growing number of developing nations trying to prevent “biopiracy” by pharmaceutical firms and other institutions based in industrialized countries, which search for botanical extracts around the globe in hopes that they will discover commercially viable applications. Proponents of Brazil’s tougher laws also argue that they could help preserve the Amazon rainforest, now at risk from logging and agriculture, by making it more valuable with its plants and animals than without them.