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  • Traditional Knowledge in National Energy Board Consultation and Environmental Assessments
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    The Federal Government’s recent Discussion Paper on modernizing the National Energy Board (NEB) and incorporating Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (TK) into the Environmental Assessment process raises a number of important questions. Chief among these is how the federal Crown perceives its duty to consult Indigenous nations where their rights may be infringed. From a decision-making standpoint, it is appealing to…
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  • Intellectual Property Rights and Indigenous Traditional Knowledge: A WIPO Guide
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    The World Intellectual Property Organization recently published an introductory guide to intellectual property for Indigenous peoples and local communities. The full publication can be found here. This post briefly highlights key elements of the report, and points out areas where conventional, Western IP approaches remain inadequate to the task of protecting and preserving Indigenous traditional knowledge, or TK.  …
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  • Leader Turned Laggard? Canada, the Nagoya Protocol, and the Road Ahead
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    As discussed elsewhere on this site, the Nagoya Protocol is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which came into force in 2014. Its stated purpose is to help achieve the third goal of the CBD, namely the “[f]air and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.”  Canada is a party to…
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What is the best way to ensure Aboriginal-sensitive access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources?

We are holding a series of focus groups across the country. Representatives from Aboriginal communities and organizations, governments, civil society, and the private sector will gather to discuss how best to protect Aboriginal 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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