December 1, 2001 to November 30, 2002
Program Work Accomplished
1. Technical support and intervention for tribes impacted by genetic research
The IPCB has conducted research into genetic studies involving the Navajo Nation, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Hopi Tribe, and Native Hawaiians on Maui. Presentations and reports have been shared with the Tribal Councils at Rosebud and Hopi, and with the Navajo Nation Institutional Review Board (IRB). We are providing ongoing technical support to these tribes and work with their tribal leadership to establish protections within their respective jurisdictions.
In January, IPCB staff attended the first wild rice meeting of the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Cloquet, Minnesota. This meeting was organized to discuss a potential campaign against the negative effects of patenting wild rice and the genetic modification of wild rice. The Executive Director provided information on the impacts of biopiracy issues and the implications for native culture and sovereignty. We also helped identify pro-bono legal and technical support and initial funding for this project. At this time, the IPCB staff also did a presentation for a class at the Fond du Lac Tribal College. In March, the Program Director attended the second wild rice meeting of the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Cloquet, Minnesota. This meeting was organized to develop constructive strategies to fight the wild rice biopiracy issue. Strategy groups included media, community organizing and education, biology, literature, and law and policy. The Program Director initiated contact with the Native American Rights Fund Board Chairman, Wallace Coffey, on behalf of WELRP. The issue of wild rice will be “generally” addressed under NARF’s current Intellectual Property research project.
2. Broad-based community education throughout indigenous communities
In December, 2001 the Executive Director was a selected invited guest to participate in the American Indian Millenium: Renewing Our Ways of Life For Future Generations conference at Cornell University. The conference brought together prominent indigenous scholars and cultural leaders to share personal stories, analysis of contemporary issues, and articulate a message for the seventh generation yet to come. A variety of written, audio, and multimedia educational materials will be developed from the conference proceedings for widespread distribution.
In March, the Executive Director participated in a series of public forums sponsored by the University of Hawaii, Manoa and Hilo campuses, for Women’s Week events. The Executive Director and IPCB Board Chair, Judy Gobert, conducted two workshops on “Genetic Research in Indian Country” at the National Indian Health Board 2002 Consumer Conference held in Denver, CO.
In April, the Program Director presented “Genetic Analysis on Tribal Membership and Native Identity” at the Western Social Science Association Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In April, IPCB staff made presentations at the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations in South Dakota. A community-based group invited IPCB to present at the first Indigenous Environmental Forum on the Rosebud Reservation. Topics included biocolonialism and the local, national, and international strategies for tribal protection. The Executive Director made a presentation before the Rosebud Tribal Council. Many tribal council members were very interested in the issues. One council member asked IPCB to research current resolutions that were recently passed with the tribe to check for any ethical violations and legitimacy. The Executive Director also spoke on the Pine Ridge Reservation radio station, KILI during a tribal council recess. CeCe Big Crow heard the broadcast and came in during the interview. Ms. Big Crow works for the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center on ELSI issues. She is very interested in IPCB work and ultimately ended up inviting IPCB to attend the Oglala Lakota Wellness Meeting two months later.
In May, the Executive Director made a plenary presentation at the national conference of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society in Anchorage. The conference organizers were keenly interested in how the Indigenous Resource Protection Act can be applied in environmental protection. Also in May, the Executive Director made a presentation for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Health and Wellness Committee.
In June, the Program Director presented at the Oglala Lakota Wellness Team Meeting. The Wellness Team was interested in getting information on the importance of developing a tribal research review committee. The Wellness Team was contemplating responsibility of creating a review committee and presenting this idea to the OST. IPCB presented on the importance of a tribally-directed review process and distributed education materials.
On September 24, the Executive Director and Board Chair, Judy Gobert, will be presenting a workshop on “Genetic Research in Indian Country” at the National Forum on Health Disparity Issues For American Indians and Alaska Natives in Denver, sponsored by the Office of Minority Health. This national forum brings together Tribal leaders, Urban Indian health organizations, health officials, federal and state policymakers, and public/private organizations to focus on eliminating barriers that perpetuate health disparities for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
In October the program director will meet with tribal groups in Oklahoma to promote the updated version of the Indigenous Research Protection Act. The tribes include: the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, Comanche Nation, Cheyenne/Arapaho Tribes, and the Intertribal Council Quarterly Meeting comprised of department heads from the Creek, Choctaw, Seminole, Cherokee, and Chickasaw Tribes.
3. Establishing protective policies
At the beginning of the year initial research began to start the process of updating the Indigenous Research Protection Act. IPCB sought outside collaborative comments for review. At the beginning of May, we received constructive comments from a member of the Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment. At the end of May IPCB staff met with three board members to begin revision and refinement of the IRPA.
In February, the Executive Director participated in a Stakeholder Dialogue on Intellectual Property Rights, held in London and sponsored by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The dialogue brought together industry, academia, and civil society organization representatives to explore the diverse range of perspectives in human genetic research. A set of possible principles to protect the rights of human subjects, and groups, in research were developed and will be shared with the broader membership of the WBCSD.
4. Publication and media campaign
In December, 2001 we developed a “Briefing Paper on the Inapplicability of Genetic Analysis Research in Determining Cultural Affiliation” for presentation at a repatriation conference at Arizona State University, and for widespread distribution.
In April, The Earth Crimes published an IPCB article entitled, “Asserting Sovereignty: An Indigenous Reaction to Biopiracy”. We also produced an article on Biopiracy for the Canadian-based journal Biodiversity, Special Issue on Indigenous Peoples. Both publications were produced for widespread distribution at the Hague UN Biodiversity Summit held in the Netherlands in April.
In May, the Cornell-based journal, Native Americas, published IPCB’s article entitled “Genetics and Native Identity: Will Science Determine?” in their Spring/Summer 2002 issue.
IPCB staff have done several interviews with journalists and other media including: Suzan Mazur, “Mormons in the Olympic spotlight”--Financial Times 2/9/2002; Milo McCleod, Renegade Radio, Toronto; Claire Cummings, KPFA radio, San Francisco; Pacific Beat with Bruce Hill, “Biocolonialism in the Pacific”, 2/9/02; Andrea Baer, Honolulu Weekly, March 20-26, 2002; Tom , KILI Radio, Pine Ridge, SD; Hector Postigo, “Blinded By Science” program, WRPI radio, NYC; Amanda Holmes, WBAI Radio, New York City; and Native America Calling national talk show broadcast by satellite to native radio stations throughout No. America on the Ethics of Cloning.
Film Project: In June, the IPCB, in collaboration with Yeast Directions (www.yeastdirections.org), began taping interviews for a film project celebrating indigenous world views and the global fight against the new biocolonialism. The Executive Director is acting as the lead interviewer and producer of the film, working in close collaboration with the film makers. The film seeks to ‘give a voice' for indigenous peoples’ perspectives on colonization, genetic technologies, and globalization. The film will create a channel for dialogue and a contribution to the wider debate of participatory democracy in science. This film aims to provide a valuable presentation of alternative voices that have not been widely heard in the broader public debate on genetic technologies. We expect the finished film to be aired on national public service programs and alternative media, and will work to insure the broadest possible distribution and exposure of the film.
A partial list of interviews and stories documented to-date include:
-Lopeti Senituli, leader of the Tongan Movement for Democracy which successfully intervened in an effort by Australian biotech firm, Autogen Ltd., to secure exclusive rights to the DNA of the people of Tonga from the Kingdom of Tonga’s Ministry of Health;
-Dorice Reid, and other leaders in the Cook Islands, Maori leaders in the Cook Islands, worked hard to successfully defeat a proposal by Diatranz, a New Zealand-based company, for permission to inject insulin-producing pig cells into Cook Islanders as a trial treatment for Type 2 Diabetes. The proposed experiment had previously been carried out on 12 children with type 1 diabetes in Mexico. The proposal was condemned by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health because “studies on the benefits to Diatranz’s patients were inadequate and did not counterbalance the risks of transferring animal viruses to humans.” Other health officials considered the experiment inappropriate for type 2 diabetes which is best managed by diet and exercise.
-Angeline Greensill, Maori attorney from Hamilton, Aotearoa (NZ), and her legal efforts to block human-cow transgenic field trials being conducted by Ag Research.
-Cherryl Smith, Maori GE activist, and her efforts to mobilize GE awareness and to promote organic gardening among Maori communities in Whanganui, and throughout NZ.
-Moana Jackson, a prominent Maori attorney, about his analysis on how genetic technologies and globalization impact indigenous peoples.
-Chief Viraleo, Turaga Nation of Pentacoste Island, Vanuatu, and his 20 years of successful efforts to revitalize the traditional ways of life in the remote villages of Pentacoste Island, in order to insure healthy people and environments. These communities have rejected all Western medicine and influences.
-Larry Baird, leader of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribe of Vancouver Island, who were outraged to find out that DNA samples taken from over 800 tribal members 10 years ago for arthritis research were taken to Oxford and are now beings used for other purposes without their consent.
The team expects to shoot additional footage in Johannesburg during the South-South Biopiracy Summit and the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development. The film team will also interview key Native American leaders in the USA as well. We are working to secure additional completion funds in order to achieve high ambitions in sound and visual post production.
5. Collaboration and networking
In February, IPCB staff attended the West Harlem Environmental Action Conference in New York City. The conference focused on “Human Genetics, Environment, and Communities of Color: Ethical and Social Implications”. The Executive Director spoke directly to the concerns of Native American communities and population (or race) based genetic research. The conference brought together a broad mix of representatives from the National Institutes of Health, genetic researchers, and the environmental justice activists from various communities of color. In attendance, also, were representatives from the Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment. The IPCB staff began a networking relationship with them regarding the update of IRPA.
In February, the Executive Director made a plenary presentation on Indigenous Peoples and Genetic Technologies at Ramapo College, NJ and a presentation on “Biotech Patents, Genomic Research, and Indigenous Resources” at the Traditional Knowledge, Intellectual Property, and Indigenous Culture conference at Cardoza School of Law, Yeshiva College in New York. An article on the same theme has also been submitted to the Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law.
In April, the Program Director met with various individuals to seek the interest level of a contemporary art exhibit. The focus would be the impact of biotechnology on tribal communities as seen through indigenous eyes. The artists and acting director of the IAIA museum were very interested and supportive of the concept.
In May, the Program Director attended the Patagonia Conference: Tools for Grassroots Activists. The conference provided excellent techniques for like organizations to move to the next level of activism. This included workshops: how to strengthen your cause by building momentum in your community, the best marketing techniques to fit your issue(s), long-term campaign strategies, practicing media presentation skills, grassroots fundraising strategies, and skills for local and national lobbying.
In June, the Executive Director served as a plenary speaker on the opening night, and co-taught a workshop, at the Bio-Justice Conference, the GE activist’s counter-event to the industry’s BIO2002 annual conference, organized by the Polaris Institute and Council of Canadians, held in Toronto.
In July, the Executive Director was a plenary speaker for the Special Session on Genetic Engineering held in conjunction with the “Environment, Culture and Community” conference held at the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia.
In July, IPCB hosted Fulbright Scholar, Jacinta Ruru. Ms. Ruru is of Maori descent from New Zealand. Her presentation focused on “The Rights of Indigenous Peoples to Participate in the Management of Publicly Owned Lands: The Experience of nga iwi Maori in Aotearoa, New Zealand”. Ms Ruru provided mutually beneficial information to an activist audience through Citizen Alert, an academia audience through the University of Nevada, Reno, and an indigenous audience at the Pyramid Lake Cultural Center. The three lectures provided an opportunity for IPCB to reach out to share and network with the local community.
In August, the Executive Director will be a speaker at several parallel NGO events at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, So. Africa including the “South-South Biopiracy Summit” organized by Biowatch, and the IUCN: The World Conservation Union’s “Places And Spaces For Indigenous Peoples In Sustainable Development” event. A briefing paper on the impact of Human Genetic Research on Indigenous Peoples has also been prepared for widespread distribution at the events. (http://iucn.org/wssd/joburg_programme/workshops/2608/mon26_indigenous.htm)
In October, the Program Director was selected by the Council for the United States and Italy to participate in the Young Leaders Conference with the theme “Life in the Era of Biotechnology: Implications for Business, Politics, and Society” to be held in Cantania, Italy.
Also, in October, the Executive Director will present a paper on "Biopiracy and Globalization: Growing Threat to Indigenous Peoples" at the “World's
Indigenous Peoples: Perspectives and Processes Conference”, sponsored by the Okanogan University in Kelowna, BC.
During the Period December 2001 to November 2002, the IPCB has raised a total of $66,663. Sources include: Veatch Program, CS Fund, Stillwaters Fund of the Tides Foundation, Burr Oak Fund of the Tides Foundation, Foundation for Deep Ecology, Seva Foundation, and several individual donors. Proposals are pending before the Seventh Generation Fund, Peace Development Fund, Foundation for Deep Ecology, and Patagonia. A key funder in the past, Solidago, has changed funding priorities and the IPCB will not receive any further support from them. Also major donor, Medora Woods, has experienced losses from the downward turn of the market and is not able to provide support to the IPCB this year. These losses of approximately $50k have impacted heavily on IPCB’s projected grant income.
Overall, the IPCB continues to experience strong and respected visibility in the biotech activism circles. Our work has gained widespread visibility as well among Native American and other indigenous groups worldwide as a result of our direct outreach work to indigenous communities and through the media. Fund raising is both a deep concern and a high priority. Staff and board are working diligently to identify and secure funds from new sources.
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