KUALA LUMPUR (MALAYSIA) – While representatives of 187 countries gather here for a key meeting on biodiversity starting today, Friends of the earth International warned about the negative impacts of the increasing ‘commodification’ of life.

Between February 9 and 20 the 187 parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meet for the seventh time to make decisions on a wide range of issues related to biodiversity.

They will discuss for instance the role of protected areas, technology transfer, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Crucially, they will also decide if they will start controversial negotiations on legally binding rules on access to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, and the ?fair and equitable? distribution of the benefits of this cultural and biological diversity.

Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental organization with 68 national groups in as many countries is concerned about those rules, since biopiracy [1] is on the increase worldwide.

“New rules based on the commodification of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge would be unacceptable because they would facilitate biopiracy instead of halting it. This would make the CBD lose its credibility,” said Simone Lovera of Friends of the Earth International.

“Patents on life and the further commodification of biodiversity are threatening the main objective of this Convention: preserving our planet’s biodiversity,” added Isaac Rojas of Friends of the Earth Costa Rica. There are many activities that are directly responsible for the loss of biological and cultural diversity. The logging (which caused the disappearance of a great part of the world’s forests) and mining industries are two major culprits.

The main demands of Friends of the Earth international to the parties of the CBD are:

  • To ban large-scale commercial logging in tropical forests (like those of Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia).
  • To ban mining, at least in the world’s protected areas.
  • To ensure explicit safeguards for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in the proposed workplan on protected areas.
  • Not to start negotiations on biopiracy rules (regime) that allow patents on life and the commodification of biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge.


Isaac Rojas (gavitza@racsa.co.cr) Friends of the Earth Costa Rica (speaks Spanish) at +31-6-10897827 (mobile from Tuesday Feb.10)
Simone Lovera (simonelovera@yahoo.com) Friends of the Earth International (Speaks English) at +31-6-10897827 (mobile from Tuesday Feb.10)
Yin Shao Loong (shaoloong@myjaring.net) Friends of the earth Malaysia (Speaks English) at +60-12-6199234 (mobile)


[1] Biopiracy is the appropriation and commodification of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.