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  • Teff Flour Patent Controversy Settled: Dutchman Does Not Have Patent Right to the Ethiopian Food Staple
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    Teff is an Ethiopian ancient grain used to make injera, a spongy fermented flatbread that is a food staple of Ethiopian culture. In 2007, a Dutchman, Jans Roosjen, obtained two patents for teff flour. The Dutch District Court of The Hague recently invalidated those two patents in Ancientgrain BV v Bakels Senior NV, and Ethiopians are now celebrating the legal…
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  • WIPO IGC 39: Unraveling the Tiered Approach to TK/TCEs
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    One of the major innovations of the IGC, in its long-running search for international legal instruments for the effective protection of TK/TCEs (Traditional Knowledge / Traditional Cultural Expressions), is the idea of tiered or differentiated approaches to TK/TCEs. The essence of looking at TK/TCEs on a tiered basis is the recognition that some TK/TCE categories are diffused to some degree. They…
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  • GMO Crops, Risks to Biodiversity, and the Enduring Value of Indigenous Knowledge
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    As early as 2021, Bayer (previously Bayer-Monsanto) will release SmartStax Pro, the first federally-approved GMO to use RNA interference – a biological process that prevents cells from creating specific proteins – to defend plants against consumption by specific insect pests. Release of a GMO naturally corresponds with a reduction in biodiversity as the previous crops are outcompeted in the market, and…
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What is the best way to ensure Aboriginal-sensitive access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources?

Our team of researchers has conducted in-depth focus groups across Canada, gathering representatives from Indigenous communities and organizations to discuss how best to protect their interests through access and benefit sharing policies.

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Rosy Periwinkle

Catharanthus roseus is a shrubby flower  native to Madagascar. The plant has long been used in traditional medicines. Its root is currently used in the treatment of leukemia and Hodgkin's lymphoma. Recent patents by pharmaceutical companies, without compensation, have led to accusations of biopiracy.

Hoodia

Called Llhoba by the San people of the Namib desert, this spiny succulent is known for its medicinal properties. Its flowers smell like rotten meat and it is pollinated by flies. The plant is popular in western holistic medicine as an appetite suppressant and is being closely studied by pharmaceutical companies.

Teff

Teff, or xaafii in Oromo, is a cereal grain that is native to Ethiopia and Eritrea. Teff is traditionally important in these areas as a food grain because of its high nutritional content. Teff has become popular in the west as gluten-free diets have become more common. It is a frequent ingredient in gluten-free beer.

Endod Berry

Commonly called the African soapberry, endod berries are native to Tropical and Southern Africa. They have traditionally  been used as a soap and shampoo. The berry has a number of genetic uses, and research indicates it may also be effective in controlling schistosomiasis - a parasitic disease.

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