SA Community Fights Plant Patent
The Times [South Africa] – 11 May 2008

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA: Omthunzi Sizani, a teacher who earned extra cash from harvesting a medicinal plant growing around her house, has helped to lodge a patent challenge against a multinational drug company that uses the plant’s powerful chemicals. Sizani joined a team of South African lawyers and environmentalists who launched the challenge at the European Union Patent Office headquarters in Munich, Germany, this week. It is the first time a South African rural community has formally challenged a patent on what they consider to be their traditional knowledge. Schwabe Pharmaceuticals has patented the extraction method used to dilute the active ingredient of Umckaloabo, also known as Pelargonium, used as a traditional medicine in the Eastern Cape and parts of Lesotho. Read the article…