14 April, 2021

Turmeric Biopiracy

India sees red as the US gives patents for age-old haldi remedies

Turmeric Biopiracy

HALDI seems to be going the neem way. Despite worldwide protests over the patenting of neem last year, the US Patent and Trademark Office has gone ahead and awarded at least four broad patents for use of haldi (turmeric), the good old sine qua non of Indian food and medicine.

The patents, one of which has been awarded to an NRI scientist duo, Suman K. Das and Hari Har P. Cohly, of the University of Mississippi Medical Centre, Jackson, US, confer on the applicants exclusive rights to specific formulations of Curcuma longa or turmeric the wound-healer, turmeric the anti-inflammatory agent, and turmeric the food additive.

Little wonder Indian activists are seeing red. "This is yet another blatant example of biopiracy. How can anybody patent something that has been the collective wisdom of a people for centuries?" questions Vandana Shiva, director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resources, which has been spearheading an international campaign against hijacking of the developing world's traditional...

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