Analysis of potential biopiracy cases
The Ecuadorian Institute of Intellectual Property (IEPI), through the National Directorate of New Varieties of Plants and Traditional Knowledge, is currently analysing the potential cases of biopiracy in Ecuador.
For some of these potential biopiracy cases, compensation cannot be claimed since before Ecuador signed the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992 – and ratified it in 1993 – biodiversity was considered to be natural world heritage, so any person or country could use the Ecuadorian genetic resources.
However, there are possible biopiracy cases that occurred after Ecuador signed the aforementioned convention. Among them is the removal of approximately 4,000 plants from Ecuador by USA scientists by means of an agreement signed by representatives of the New York Botanical Garden, the National Cancer Institute and the Federation of Awá Communities (representative of Ecuadorian Awá communities). This agreement authorized the USA scientists to enter the Ecuadorian Awá communities in order to carry out research. With this purpose, several thousands of plant samples and possibly also amphibian and invertebrate samples were collected. Nonetheless, the results of this research have not yet been presented to Ecuador.
From existing registries, it is known that there is a permit granted by the former Institute for Forestry, Natural Areas and Wildlife of Ecuador (INEFAN) to collect said samples. However, this case could incur biopiracy since the collection of samples was made based on an agreement signed directly with the Awá community and not with a national authority, which according to the Ecuadorian Constitution are the only entities that can regulate the genetic resources.