Bioprospecting or Biopiracy?


“(Pharmacology) the use of wild plants by international companies to develop medicines, without recompensing the countries from which they are taken”. Collins English Dictionary


“The process of discovery and commercialization of new products based on biological resources”. Wikipedia

As I begin studies in Health Science, Nutritional Medicine and Naturopathy, I have found that it has a strong tendency to foster inner reflection on personal beliefs and world view. I’ve been pondering many things of late, one of which continually brings my thoughts back to the world’s current state of affairs in globalisation, and ultimately in the corporatization of basic survival commodities such as food and medicine. I think there’s a positive and negative to most things. And as history has proven, there will always be those who exploit others for personal gain, as we continue to witness this in today’s spectrum. It’s a part of life, challenge and ultimate growth as we learn what serves both personal and community purpose, from that which sets us back.


I think we are living in amazing times at the moment, with so much potential for further growth in knowledge, and understanding how everything works and fits together. Although many of our ancient elders faced more challenging survival issues than we do today, they possessed great knowledge of the connectedness of all life, and lived within this paradigm of mutual respect with the spirit of life and all living things.

We’ve come a long way in technology and culture since then, and although we know more now than our elders did, in terms of chemical compounds and constituents. I wonder if we have maybe lost the essence of the whole? Indigenous communities didn’t have the breakdown of how food and medicines worked as they lived as one with the earth, experiencing their own forms of trial and error in medical efficacy and nutritional value.

Bush Food

However we live in different times and the trial and error of food and medicine naturally requires alternative methods. I think it’s a great thing that we can break down foods and their components, as a way of measuring nutritional efficacy, as well as understanding the many diverse medicinal properties. However I feel that too often, any positive steps taken by the many who wish to create good, are often marred by corporations who have no interest in the growth journey of the world’s sustainability. But rather, vested interests only in a fast tracked destination that serves their profit margin. This saddens me greatly, as I feel very connected to the earth.


It’s not so much the study and research of native bush plants that concerns me. It’s more the method and corporate interest and intention that’s a worry. In saying this, in the positive / negative paradigm that we live within, it’s encouraging to see the turnaround of awareness, with many newly created groups and programs that are passionate about regrowth and ongoing sustainability. It’s so good to see so many now working for the common good.

It’s through methods of integrity and respect for the earth and all living things, with a vision towards creating a sustainable future in health and wellbeing, that I wholly support and believe in.

Julie Defina

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