Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism
For the grant period January 1, 2006-December 31, 2006
I. Campaigns and Major Program Areas
The IPCB is organized to protect the genetic resources, cultural heritage, and rights of Indigenous peoples from the negative affects of biotechnology and globalization. We work to demystify these topics so Indigenous peoples can be full participants in the debates that so affect their lives. We believe that our presentation of issues in layman terms using all forms of media is critical to building a broad base of activism among indigenous peoples on these issues.
Campaign to Stop the Genographic Project
Debra Harry and Le`a Kanehe attended a meeting with the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project organizers, Cultural Survival’s Program Council members and staff, held at the UN Millenium Hotel in New York City on May 20, 2006. The meeting took place during the two-week meeting of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. At the same time, a number of Indigenous peoples organized and held a protest calling for a halt of the Genographic Project outside the Millenium Hotel.
Both staff drafted and submitted an intervention to fifth session of UN Permanent Forum (UNPFII) requesting their recommendation for a halt of the Genographic Project in light of the potential risks and violation of human rights of Indigenous peoples. The UNPFII recommended “the World Health Organization and the Human Rights Commission investigates the objectives of the Genographic Project” and request “that the Genographic Project be immediately suspended and report to the Indigenous peoples on the free, prior and informed consent of all the communities where activities are conducted or planned.” We consider this a significant recommendation that should cause the NGS to seriously reconsider the further implement of the Genographic Project.
UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
Debra Harry and Le`a Kanehe attended the CBD’s Fourth Meeting of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8j-4) During WG8j-4 IPCB staff focused efforts on the agenda items related to genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs, a.k.a. “Terminator Technology”) and sui generis protection of traditional knowledge. The Ban Terminator Campaign was successful in forwarding a recommendation to the COP8 to maintain the ban on commercial and field releases of GURTs. Debra Harry and Le`a Kanehe served as co-chairs of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) working group on sui generis protection of TK. Debra’s participation was sponsored by the CBD Alliance, an NGO coalition organization, and Le`a’s participation was sponsored by the Secretariat of the CBD.
During WG8j-4, Le`a Kanehe presented on a side-event panel organized by Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra entitled "Indigenous Peoples' Practical and Legal Experiences Regarding the Protection of Traditional Knowledge" on February 2, 2006. Her presentation was entitled, “Indigenous Legal Experiences Regarding the Protection of Traditional Knowledge,” and included a discussion of issues in North America by using case studies on a proposed Mohawk-Microsoft contract for development of a Mohawk language operating system, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians’ Education Department model consultant agreement terms protecting tribal cultural property, and IPCB’s model code, the Indigenous Research Protection Act (IRPA).
Le`a Kanehe attended the Fourth Meeting of the Working Group on Access and Benefit Sharing (WGABS-4), which was held back-to-back with the WG8j-4 (see above). The WGABS-4 consolidated the options for nature, scope, objectives and elements previously developed in Bangkok at WGABS-3 and produced a bracketed text for COP8, which reflected the disparate views on the regime from both developing and developed countries’ perspectives on each of the component parts of the proposed regime. Le`a’s participation was sponsored by the Secretariat of the CBD. She served as a co-chair for the IIFB working group on the International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing.
Debra Harry and Le`a Kanehe attended the CBD Eighth Conference of the Parties (COP8) held in Curitiba, Brazil in March 2006. IPCB prepared a briefing paper for Indigenous participants on the elaboration and negotiation of an international regime on access and benefit sharing, which was a major agenda item of the COP. The COP decided to extend the elaboration and negotiation of what will likely be a new treaty that facilitates the commercialization of non-human genetic material through 2010. Le`a Kanehe served as co-chair for the IIFB’s working group on this issue. IPCB staff also continued to collaborate with the Ban Terminator Campaign, which proved successful in securing a COP decision that maintains the ban on GURTs. Debra served as a speaker at a side event organized by the Sao Paulo-based Instituto Socioambiental. IPCB also sponsored and organized a side event at COP8 called “Protecting the Sacred and Honoring the Ancestors” which was attended by approximately 70 individuals.
World Intellectual Property Organization Inter-governmental Committee on Genetic Resources Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, November 30-December 8, (WIPO IGC GRTKF) Geneva, Switzerland: Debra Harry and Le`a Kanehe attended the Tenth Session of the WIPO IGC GRTKF at WIPO headquarters. The agenda items included review of draft policy and objectives developed by the IGC for the protection of traditional cultural expressions and the protection of TK and a review of past work of the IGC on genetic resources (including prior art databases of TK) and recommendations for future work that needs to be developed. We submitted three submissions on each of these key agenda items, and organized a side event called “What Future for the IGC?.” Le`a’s participation was sponsored by the WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities. Debra served as member of the Voluntary Fund advisory committee that reviewed applications for funding for the Eleventh Session in July 2007.
Terminator Technology: IPCB participated in a global NGO effort called the “Ban Terminator Campaign” to stop industry lobbying efforts to end a moratorium on field-testing and commercialization of Terminator Seeds. We organized a campaign to encourage submissions to the CBD regarding the potential social, economic, and cultural impacts of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs) on Indigenous peoples. These comments were reviewed at the Working Group on Article 8(j) in Granada Spain in January 2006. At the Working Group on Article 8(j) in Granada several countries including Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the US, lobbying on behalf of the biotech industry, were successful in introducing dangerous language into the recommendation to the 8th Conference of the Parties (COP8) allowing for a “case-by-case” assessment of Terminator technology. However, at the COP8, held in Curitiba, Brazil, strong pressure by civil society groups, including Indigenous peoples, and a number of governmental delegations resulted in a COP8 decision that upholds the international moratorium on "terminator technology." While this COP8 decision insures some protection for the time being, the next phase of work includes implementation of national legislation banning the use of terminator technologies.
Genographic Project Campaign: On May 20, 2006, several Indigenous leaders met with the representatives of the Genographic Project and its parent organization, the National Geographic Society (NGS), to express their overwhelming opposition to the project. The IPCB presented a petition to lead researcher, Dr. Spencer Wells, bearing the names of more than 850 Indigenous nations, organizations, individuals, and supporters calling on the National Geographic Society to stop the Project. The meeting was organized as a dialogue between Cultural Survival’s Program Council, the IPCB, and the Genographic Project, and was planned to coincide with the fifth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in NYC.
Prior to and during the meeting, protestors rallied outside of the meeting at the UN Millennium Plaza and voiced their concerns about the project’s exploitation of Indigenous peoples. Rally speeches called for a boycott of National Geographic products and supported meeting participants’ call for an immediate halt to the Genographic Project.
Although Wells and top National Geographic officials failed to agree to this demand, IPCB and other indigenous organizations issued a formal submission to the UNPFII requesting the UN body recommend a halt to the project, and examine the numerous ethical and human rights concerns this project poses for Indigenous peoples.
On the closing day of its two-week meeting, the UNPFII announced its recommendation that
“The World Health Organization and the Human Rights Commission investigates the objectives of the Genographic Project” and request “that the Genographic Project be immediately suspended and report to the Indigenous peoples on the free, prior and informed consent of all the communities where activities are conducted or planned.”
We hoped the weight of a UN recommendation would stall the progress of the Genographic Project. However, since then, the Genographic Project conducted an expedition to collect DNA samples from Alaska Natives in July 2006. We sent out press releases to numerous media contacts, and statewide and regional Alaska Native organizations throughout Alaska to help raise awareness particularly in remote villages. Apparently these collections were done without having approval from the Alaska Native Medical Center IRB, which has since asked the U-Penn IRB for an immediate return of the samples taken in Alaska. We also are award that Spencer Wells has visited French Polynesia and the Cook Islands, and initiated groundwork there for collecting blood in 2007. The IPCB is working with our contacts in this region to help raise awareness among the indigenous peoples there.
An updated and revised version of our paper entitled “The BS in Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS): Critical Questions for Indigenous Peoples,” was also published in “The Crossroads of Modernities: Debates on Biodiversity, Technoscience and Culture” by the Instituto Socioambiental, Sao Paolo, Brazil (www.socioambiental.org) in both Portuguese and English. The publication was released at the UN CBD Conference of the Parties in Curitiba, Brazil in March 2006.
Debra Harry and Le`a Kanehe published a paper titled “The Right of Indigenous Peoples to Permanent Sovereignty Over Genetic Resources and Associated Indigenous Knowledge” in The Journal of Indigenous Policy, Issue 6, published by Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia 2006.
Debra Harry and Le`a Kanehe, “The Right of Indigenous Peoples to Permanent Sovereignty Over Genetic Resources and Associated Indigenous Knowledge,” was re-published in Te Raweke Ira: Genes, Genetics and Nanotechnology, which is a part of a series of readers examining critical issues in contemporary Maori society published by the International Research Institute for Maori & Indigenous Education.
Debra Harry paper “High-Tech Invasion: Biocolonialism” re-published by Sierra Club Books in the book “Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Economic Globalization” which was originally published by the International Forum on Globalization (2005).
Debra Harry and Jonathan Marks wrote a paper titled “Counterpoint: Blood-Money” published as a counterpoint to the article “Opinion: Demystifying Native American Genetic Opposition to Research” by Shroeder, Malhi, and Smith in Evolutionary Anthropology 15:93–94 (2006).
Le`a Kanehe authored a paper titled “From Kumulipo: I Know Where I Come From – An Indigenous Pacific Critique of The Genographic Project,” in Pacific Genes & Life Patents: Pacific Indigenous Experiences & Analysis of the Commodification & Ownership of Life (Aroha Te Pareake Mead and Steven Ratuva eds., published by Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra & United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies, forthcoming March 2007).
Le`a Kanehe co-authored a paper with Walter Ritte titled “Kuleana No Haloa (Responsibility for Taro): Protecting the Sacred Ancestor from Ownership and Genetic Modification,” in Pacific Genes & Life Patents: Pacific Indigenous Experiences & Analysis of the Commodification & Ownership of Life (Aroha Te Pareake Mead and Steven Ratuva eds., Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra & United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies, forthcoming March 2007).
Debra Harry and Le`a Kanehe co-authored a paper titled ”Protecting Indigenous Knowledge in a Globalized World” which is pending publication in the UCLA Indigenous Peoples’ Journal of Law, Culture and Resistance in February 2007.
Debra Harry and Le`a Kanehe co-authored a paper titled “Asserting Tribal Sovereignty over Cultural Property: Towards Protection of Genetic Material and Indigenous Knowledge” published in Seattle Journal for Social Justice, Seattle University School of Law) in February 2007.
III. Press and other Media Coverage
• 02/06 Provided information to David Glenn for his article “Science BC (Before Consent) (Part 2)” published in the Chronicle of Higher Education in the issue dated March 3, 2006.
• 05/06 Provided information to Amy Harmon for her article “DNA Gatherers Hit Snag: Tribes Don’t Trust Them” published in the New York Times December 10, 2006.
• 04/06 Provided information to Meridith Small for her article titled “First Soldier of the Gene Wars” published in Archaeology Magazine, May/June Issue 2006.
• 05/07/06 Both staff did a radio interview with El Ali, for the program Janet’s House on WURD in Philadelphia. The website for the show is www.janetshouse.com.
• 5/26/06 Interview with Dalia Basiouny, United Nations Radio, regarding the Genographic Project.
• 7/6/06 Interview with Charlie Furniss for article titled “Blood Feud,” Geographical Dossier, September 2006, p. 52, is available at: www.geographical.co.uk.
• 9/11/06 Interview with Chris Richards, for the pilot program of the New Internationalist Radio program. The program can be heard at the following link:
• 8/3/06 Article titled “Giù le mani dalle nostre origini” by Simone Vecchi in the Jekyll Communicare la Scienzia dossier available at: http://jekyll.sissa.it/index.php?document=581
• 10/10/06 CBS News.com article by Stephen Smith titled “Mad At Science
Some Activists Say The Genographic Project Is Undermining Indigenous Cultures” available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/10/02/tech/main2057128.shtml
• 12/06/06 Inside Views: Indigenous Groups Tell WIPO, ‘Don’t Patent Our Traditional Knowledge’ coverage of IPCB’s joint intervention in Intellectual Property Watch available at: http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/index.php?p=480&res=1440_ff&print=0
• 12/14/06 Native America Calling radio interview with Harlen McKasato on the Genographic Project
IV. IPCB Participation at Conferences and other Events
Hawai`i State Bar Association – Intellectual Property Section Speakers Series, January 11 (Honolulu, Hawai`i): Le`a presented to intellectual property attorneys and the general public in a talk entitled “Bioprospecting and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights: International, US and Hawai`i," co-sponsored by HSBA Intellectual Property Section and Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law.
2006 Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy, January 12 (Honolulu, Hawai`i): Le`a Kanehe was invited to participate on a bioprospecting panel and made a presentation entitled, “Bioprospecting : Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Industry’s Responsibilities.”
Convention on Biological Diversity Fourth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Inter-sessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions, January 23-27 (Granada, Spain): Described in detail above in section on UN Convention on Biological Diversity
Convention on Biological Diversity Fourth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing, January 30 – February 3 (Granada, Spain): Described in detail above in section on UN Convention on Biological Diversity
“International Dialogue: Indigenous Perspectives on Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge,” sponsored by Environment Canada and the Assembly of First Nations, February 25 - March 1, 2006: Le`a Kanehe and Debra Harry attended a meeting on access and benefit sharing, which was hosted by the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation on their reserve in Vancouver, British Columbia. This international gathering brought together respected representatives of the world’s Indigenous peoples in order to facilitate a dialogue with international ABS policy-makers on indigenous perspectives on genetic resources and traditional knowledge in preparation for the Convention on Biological Diversity COP8 in March 2006 regarding the negotiation of an international ABS regime. Le`a’s participation was sponsored by Environment Canada and she was invited to make a presentation entitled “Access & Benefit Sharing Within a Human Rights Framework.”
Sovereignty in Indian Country Symposium sponsored by the Ethnicity, Race, and First Nations degree program West campus of Arizona State University on March 2, 2006: Debra was a featured speaker on the topic “Conflicting Sovereignties: The Protection of Genetic Resources and Indigenous Knowledge in International For a.”
CBD Eighth Conference of the Parties (COP8), Curitiba Brazil on March 21-31 2006: Our briefing paper on the International Regime on ABS was expanded and updated for the Indigenous caucus at the COP8 (paper attached). We also organized a side event at COP8 called “Protecting the Sacred and Honoring the Ancestors” which was attended by approximately 70 individuals.
Federated States of Micronesia National Workshop For Multilateral Environmental Agreement Negotiators, (Kolonia, Pohnpei, FSM) April 24-25, 2006: Le`a Kanehe served as a consultant on access and benefit sharing to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in a capacity-building workshop co-sponsored by the United Nations Environment Program for state and federal policy makers in the Federated States of Micronesia. She prepared four briefing papers for the participants on the status of ABS in the CBD, COP8 ABS negotiations, the status of Article 8(j) in the CBD, and the status of protection of TK in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and also made a presentation incorporating the issues covered in the briefing papers.
BioPolitics: Gender, Race and Science Workshop Cornell University on May 15-16, 2006: Debra screened the film “The Leech and the Earthworm” and presented at this conference and also met with students at a luncheon organized by the American Indian Program at Cornell.
“The Disputed Genome: Group Interests in Genetic Research,” conference at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Sept 15 also the Community Genetics Forum at University of North Carolina-Durham on September 16.
Assisted Reproductive and Genetic Technologies: An Intimate Retreat to Explore and Envision the Path to Justice, (Asilomar, California) October 16-17, 2006: Le`a Kanehe and Debra Harry participated at an invitation-only retreat for women working in reproductive health and justice fields, which was hosted by the Center for Genetics and Society and Planned Parenthood. Over the 3-day meeting, the participants explored their different perspectives on assisted reproductive and genetic technologies (ARGT), including in vitro fertilization, genetic screening (gender and other trait selection and disability or disease de-selection), and human cloning. The women developed recommendations and strategies for future collaborative work.
World Archaeological Congress Chacmool Conference, University of Calgary, October 2006: Debra spoke on a panel titled “Decoding Implications of the Genographic Project for Archaeology”discussion organized by George Nicholas (Simon Fraser University) and Julie Hollowell (University of British Columbia and Indiana University).
“Who Owns Nature? BioPolitics, BioColonialism,” Conference sponsored by the Seattle University Seattle University School of Law in in partnership with the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association, Oct 27, 2006: Debra was a keynote speaker at this conference to examine the impact of biotechnology on the world's indigenous peoples. Le`a presented on a panel on indigenous perspectives on biotechnology.
World Intellectual Property Organization Inter-governmental Committee on Genetic Resources Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, November 30-December 8, (Geneva, Switzerland): Le`a Kanehe and Debra Harry attended the Tenth Session of the WIPO IGC GRTKF at WIPO headquarters. The agenda items included review of draft policy and objectives developed by the IGC for the protection of traditional cultural expressions and the protection of TK and a review of past work of the IGC on genetic resources (including prior art databases of TK) and recommendations for future work that needs to be developed. Le`a’s participation was sponsored by the WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities. Debra served as member of the Voluntary Fund advisory committee that reviewed applications for funding for the Eleventh Session in July 2007.
IV. Funding and Other Administrative News
Debra Harry, nominated by Board member Marty Teitel, was selected to participate in the Rockwood Program’s year-long 2006 “Leading from the Inside Out” fellowship program. The leadership program designed to help non-profit leaders get better results, build healthier teams, create powerful and lasting collaborations, and work more efficiently and sustainably. Debra’s participation was made possible by a special grant from the Stillwaters Fund, and the collective contributions from the Rockwood 2006 cadre.
Le`a Kanehe was selected as a fellow at the Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law at the University of Hawai`i William S. Richardson School of Law (September 2006-May 2007). She is developing a course on biocolonialism to be taught at the Law School. Her work includes compiling a reader and other course material, conducting interviews on Native Hawaiian perspectives on genetic technologies, writing a chapter on biocolonialism in Hawai`i for the Second Edition of the Native Hawaiian Rights Handbook (Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, ed.), and advising students doing research on genetic and other cultural property issues. The course is expected to be offered in Fall 2007.
IPCB’s work would not be possible without the generous support of our funders. Our funders include the CS Fund, Stillwaters Fund of the Tides Foundation, The Flying Eagle Woman Fund, Honor the Earth, the Veatch Program, and the Seventh Generation Fund. In addition to the CS Fund grant of $30,000, the IPCB has received a $20,000 grant from the Stillwaters Fund of the Tides Foundation and a $40,000 grant from the Wallace Global Fund for 2006/07. A detailed financial report for FY 2006 is attached.
V. On the Horizon
• Emerging Indigenous Leaders Program: The Emerging Indigenous Leadership Program (EILP) is a one-year leadership development program for a group of 15-20 young people from the Paiute, Shoshone and Washoe Tribes in Northern Nevada. The EILP is designed to enhance leadership skills and potential; foster interpersonal, social, cultural/spiritual development; and instill an attitude of social awareness and responsibility. Over the course of the year the program will hold eleven workshops aimed at tackling issues that face many Native American communities such as environmental justice, biocolonialism, protection of cultural heritage, self-determination, repatriation, and multi-media communications. The entire program will be based upon a foundation of strong cultural identity and ways of knowing, and building on the capacity of local people to further the exercise of tribal sovereignty and self-determination.
• Book on Biocolonialism that compiles and ties together our various existing recent publications (2005-2007).
• Ten week on-line course on biocolonialism for University of California-Los Angeles Tribal Learning Community Education Exchange (TLCEE)