Besides poaching, bio-piracy is another serious problem endangering our environment. Bio-piracy is termed as unauthorised appropriation of rights over indigenous biomedical knowledge, generally by means of patents, without compensation to the indigenous groups who originally developed such knowledge. This practice is generally carried out by multinational pharmaceutical companies and other corporations of developed countries. The menace of bio-piracy can take multiple forms.
For example, some indigenous people may have discovered medicinal value of a given plant, through thousands of years of their living with nature. Now consider a multinational company takes samples of that plant with particular medicinal value.
It then creates a product based on that indigenous biomedical knowledge and obtains a patent for the product. It then sells the product in the market for profit without paying any money to the indigenous people who have discovered that knowledge.
This amounts to bio-piracy. Many developing countries who are rich in biodiversity, often suffer from bio-piracy. Bio-piracy not only deprives the indigenous people of a given nation of their rights, but also leads to exploitation of their environment for commercial purposes.
After a legal battle, in which India challenged the grant of patent for turmeric (haldi) to the University of Missisippi Medical Centre in December 1993, the US Patents and Trademarks Office ruled that the patent was not valid.