Traditional Knowledge & Biopiracy: The Peruvian Maca Root
PIIPA Monthly Case Study Series, February 2011

Maca root is an herbaceous, perennial, cultivated crop that is native to the Andes in Peru. For centuries, the people in the Andes have been using the maca root for its medicinal properties and now maca is exported around the world. The National Institute for the Defense of Competition and Intellectual Property of Peru discovered that there were over 100 patents directed to inventions related to Peruvian indigenous plants, including the maca root, or that included maca derivatives in the patent claims. With the assistance of PIIPA volunteers they decided to first challenge the US patents directed to extracts of maca plants. The US patents prevented Peruvian farmers from exporting maca extracts to the US. Download the case study [pdf] …