Bio-Piracy

Curcuma_longa_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-199

The U.S. is a nation of immigrants.

All our pioneering ancestors came from somewhere else. Still, we Americans often consider ourselves to be the greatest in the world at everything. But as our population diversifies, we’re learning that we’re not.

I go in for complementary medicine. Massage with Christy and Patricia. Accupuncture and Qi Gong with Cristin. So my ears priced up when I read the following article. BIO-PIRACY: WHEN WESTERN FIRMS USURP EASTERN MEDICINE. Raj Choudhury and Tarun Khanna, Harvard Business school professors, examine the history of herbal patent applications, and challenge the stereotype that Western firms are innovators, while emerging markets are imitators.

Carmen Nobel, senior editor of Harvard’s Working Knowledge, begins her July, 2014 article: “In May 1995, two scientists at the University of Mississippi were granted an American patent for the use of turmeric to treat flesh wounds. Soon thereafter, an Indian research organization won a lawsuit challenging the novelty of the patent. As it turned out, Indians had been using turmeric as a wound ointment for thousands of years. The United States Patent and Trademark Office revoked the patent in 1997. Patents are supposed to be novel, but patent offices know little about the novelty of herbs. Not Cristin.

With her recommendation I sprinkle turmeric and cinnamon on my cereal. Some people now take a daily turmeric capsule. Along with eating copious fruits and veggies, I swallow black elderberry syrup for my coughs, and drink gingko tea.

What keeps you healthy?

Photo credit: Wiki Commons: Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen

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