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Pacific Genes & Life Patents

Pacific Genes & Life Patents: Pacific Indigenous Experiences & Analysis of the Commodification & Ownership of Life

Ed. Aroha Te Pateke & Dr. Steven Ratuva

Softcover, 272 pp.

Many international organizations are seeking to engage with indigenous communities in a mutually beneficial relationship, and in ways that enable indigenous communities to have greater visibility in national and international processes affecting them. Call of the Earth, Llamado de la Tierra (COE) is a global initiative on indigenous intellectual property policy that is wholly indigenous and has as one of its major aims the profiling and publication of indigenous analysis on cultural and intellectual property issues. The United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) is fortunate to have established a collaborative relationship with COE in 2001. It is through this collaboration with COE, that UNU-IAS has been able to contribute to this groundbreaking publication on Pacific Genes and Life Patents.

The South Pacific is a unique and highly complex region that has the world’s largest ocean and is home to some of the greatest cultural, linguistic and biological diversity in the world. It is also a region where the majority population is indigenous and still retains much of their traditional knowledge and the values of their communities. The cultural and biological diversity of the region however is under threat due to a series of factors, including population growth, over-fishing and poverty.

As a region, the Pacific has experienced more than its fare share of external experimental research that has resulted in the commodification and misappropriation of important components of their ancestral inheritance. For others, it might be difficult to understand how a plant could be regarded as a living ancestor, or that human blood retains its life spirit even after it has been collected for medical research and synthesized and isolated for specific DNA qualities. Such values are still very much a part of the daily lives and analysis of Pacific communities. This publication provides the first of its kind report on specific cases that have been experienced by Pacific communities in Polynesia and Micronesia. First of a kind because the case examples are written by Pacific indigenous writers who are from the communities affected and/or were actively involved in the resultant community responses.

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