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Asunto:[LEA-Venezuela] Venezuela hopes for OPEC-like biodiversity cartel
Fecha:Viernes, 6 de Septiembre, 2002  06:28:46 (-0400)
Autor:Jorge Hinestroza <vitae1 @.......net>

Planet Ark : Venezuela hopes for OPEC-like biodiversity cartel

 

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Venezuela hopes for OPEC-like biodiversity cartel
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SOUTH AFRICA: September 6, 2002


JOHANNESBURG - A new group of Third World nations wants developed countries and corporations to pay for access a wide range of plants, animals and folklore rather than exploiting them without recompense.


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 Exporting Countries.

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 biodiversity.


Story by Alister Doyle


REUTERS NEWS SERVICE


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