Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez suggested this week the
group should handle their assets in biodiversity in the same way the
OPEC oil cartel has regulated the price and production of oil.
Left-wing populist Chavez said the 12 nations were seeking ways
to cooperate to ensure that a bigger chunk of corporate profits from
exploiting rare animals and plants stayed in the Third World.
"If it was like OPEC, it would be marvellous," he told Reuters in
an interview on the last day of the Earth Summit in Johannesburg of
the new group, launched in Mexico last March.
"It would be good to go in the direction of creating a solid
unity. OPEC for example meets not just to make declarations but to
make decisions," he said.
Venezuela is also a member of the Organisation of Petroleum
Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Indonesia,
Kenya, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and Venezuela banded together to
form what they call the "like-minded group of mega-diverse states".
All have an extremely wide range of species of plants and animals
and therefore a joint interest in protecting natural resources
ranging from tropical rainforests to animals. A gene in a rare
plant, for instance, might turn up a cure for cancer.
"Developed countries have been extracting knowledge accumulated
over thousands of years by the indigenous people, for instance,
about the use of medicinal plants," Chavez said.
"They've been extracting resources of biodiversity from our
countries without paying a cent, without respecting intellectual
property," he said.
"If these countries carry off a medical formula from some jungle,
a species or a piece of knowledge accumulated in one of our
countries, they should be authorised by the respective country and
by the local community," he said.
By joining forces, the countries hoped to be able to set higher
prices for pharmaceuticals companies and others to exploit