November 08, 2001

US Government's $2.5 Million Biopiracy Project in Mexico Cancelled

Victory for Indigenous Peoples in Chiapas

After two years of intense local opposition from indigenous peoples' organizations in Chiapas, Mexico, the US government-funded ICBG-Maya project aimed at the bioprospecting of Mayan medicinal plants and traditional knowledge has been "definitively cancelled" by the Project's Chiapas-based partner, ECOSUR - El Colegio de la Frontera Sur. The US government confirmed today that the ICBG-Maya Project has been terminated.

"The definitive cancellation of the ICBG-Maya project is important for all indigenous peoples in Mexico. Indigenous communities are asking for a moratorium on all biopiracy projects in Mexico, so that we can discuss, understand and propose our own alternative approaches to using our resources and knowledge. We want to insure that no one can patent these resources and that the benefits are shared by all." - Antonio Perez Mendez, indigenous doctor and secretary of the Council of Traditional Indigenous Doctors and Midwives from Chiapas (Consejo de Médicos y Parteras Indígenas Tradicionales de Chiapas - COMPITCH).

"We see the cancellation of the ICBG-Maya as a victory, but we also realize that we must develop capacity to respond with our own economic alternatives. If not, we will continue to see foreign projects which seek to privatize our resources and knowledge." - Rafael Alarcón, advisor to COMPITCH.


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