Combating Neo-colonialism: A Look at the Efficacy of the Indigenous Response to the Plundering of Their Cultural and Intellectual Property

The Ecosystem of the Earth consists of many species of micro-organisms, plants, and animals. The genetic diversity occupying the planet is the Earth's biodiversity. This biodiversity ensures that the Earth's ecosystem can adapt to environmental changes. Today, it has become popular to harvest the world's biodiversity, by a process known as bioprospecting, for the sole purpose of producing commercially valuable products (biotechnology). These products are used in medicine, cosmetics, agriculture and husbandry; and many other uses. On its face, it is difficult to the see the drawbacks of bioprospecting, but a deeper look at the process reveals a pitfall of destruction. The process of bioprospecting has led to genetic erosion and loss of biodiversity, the invasion of indigenous territories resulting in cultural destruction, the commoditization of the very essence of life itself, and increased inequalities between the developed and lesser developed countries. This paper will define the phenomenon known as bioprospecting, attempt to illuminate the negative consequences of the process, and then examine the efficacy of actions aimed at combating bioprospecting.


Virjinya Hicks


Robert A. Hershey





Arizona State Museum: 

M9791 H55c
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences