Peruvian Farmers and Indigenous People Denounce Maca Patents

Extract of Andean Root Crop Patented for “Natural Viagra” Properties

Indigenous peoples' and farmers' organizations from the Andes and the Amazon gathered at the offices of the Ecological Forum in Lima, Peru on 28 June 2002 to formally denounce US patents on maca, the high-altitude Andean plant (of the Cruciferae [mustard] family) that has been grown for centuries by indigenous peoples in the Puna highlands of Peru, both as a staple food crop and for medicinal purposes. Today, maca-based products are commonly promoted as natural enhancers of sexual function and fertility, and demand for maca is growing in the US, Europe and Japan. While maca exports have the potential to create new markets and income for Peruvian farmers, recent US patents related to maca may actually foreclose opportunity for the true innovators of the Andean crop.

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