02 Mar 2017 18:00pm
WINDHOEK, 02 MAR (NAMPA) The Access to Biological and Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge Bill of 2017 should properly define traditional knowledge to avoid the exploitation of communities.
DTA of Namibia Member of Parliament, Jennifer van den Heever said this during the debate on the second reading of the Bill in the National Assembly (NA) on Wednesday.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Tommy Nambahu tabled the Bill in the NA last Thursday.
It is aimed at protecting the rights of local communities over biological and genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge; and to establish the necessary administrative structure and processes for the implementation and enforcement of such principles.
Van den Heever said the Bill presented an ideal opportunity and avenue to launch important awareness campaigns around the issue of traditional knowledge.
She added that local and traditional authorities are not aware of traditional and knowledge systems and natural resources, which opens the door for scrupulous and opportunistic businesspeople to exploit rural communities.
This, she said, is done by the purchase of precious raw materials at a fraction of their true economic worth.
Some communities have not been able to turn the knowledge of using indigenous plants as medicine into a sustainable source of income.
She said not providing a proper definition of what constitutes traditional knowledge makes it difficult to grant any protection for any traditional knowledge that could be used in medicine research.
The debate continues on Tuesday.
According to the World Health Organisation, about 80 per cent of the people in Africa use traditional and herbal medicine to meet their basic health needs. Globally, the popularity of traditional and herbal ailments has grown, with 25 per cent of modern medicines derived from plants and their traditional use. Of concern is the sustainability of the biodiversity, as overharvesting the natural resources to meet the demand puts the raw materials at risk.