Bio-piracy and the case for traditional medicine in Kenya
Nyamongo, Rhodah Noreen Kwamboka
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Traditional medicine as a form of traditional knowledge has for the longest time been inadequately provided for within the legislative framework both locally and internationally. In spite of being in existence for a long time and the awareness of its reliability, it has been poorly protected and the consequence has been biopiracy, that is, unfair misappropriation and exploitation. Only recently has the populace and government in developing countries recognised the necessity of protecting it and ensuring that the rights members of the indigenous and local community who discovered the medicinal knowledge are recognised, preserved and protected. The study examined the current legislative and regulatory framework globally and in Kenya and came up with recommendations which Kenya can implement in order to prevent biopiracy and create systems through which the holders of traditional medicine can benefit from them. The study was conducted through comparative analysis of the approaches taken by Thailand, India, South Africa and Portugal as opposed to Kenya. It has found that the newly enacted Statute and international intellectual property laws have loopholes that greatly foster bio-piracy. It has also found that the protection of traditional medicine in Kenya will be greatly promoted through the establishment of an independent institution whose members are well versed or experienced in the area of traditional knowledge, particularly the medicinal practices. The study proposes that the Digital Repository to be established be made available and accessible globally to institutions that deal with the registration of intellectual property rights in order to prevent bio-piracy not only locally but internationally.