On the 26th of January we submitted written comments and made an oral submission to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology on the Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Systems Bill (Bill 6 of 2016).
This controversial Bill in its current form threatens the on-going practice of African Traditional Medicine by an estimated 200 000 traditional healers by restricting their accreditation criteria for registration to practice legally, and could potentially create a new government bureaucracy called the National Indigenous Knowledge Systems Office (NIKSO) under the Department of Science and Technology.
The NIKSO, if established by law, it will technically own all indigenous plant usage rights for either medicinal or biotechnology use in South Africa, and create a mechanism for it sell off these novel plant uses to the highest bidding pharmaceutical and the biotechnology industries currently lining up at the back door.
We do not believe the State can be the regulator, arbitrator, trustee and licensee of the majority of indigenous knowledge and plant-based usage rights. It has a direct conflict of interest, and prejudices indigenous communities who should be the beneficiaries of benefit-sharing when commercial interests exploit our natural plant and knowledge resources.
You can download a copy of our written submission to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Science & Technology HERE.