At Millennium Summit in 2000, all United Nations´ member states comitted to the program of eradicating of poverty and its impact – the Millennium Development Goals. One of the targets was also to provide access to basic medications in developing countries, with the cooperation of pharmaceutial companies.
However, the situation remains critical, as according to UN report from 2005, 1.7 billion people worldwide do not have access to basic medications and 80 percent of them live in countries with low income. Patent protection of important medications and business policies of large pharmaceutical oligopolies and distributors keep reducing the access of many people to vitally important medicaments; the prices of medicaments on developing countries markets reach the double to fourteen multiple to referential prices on world markets.
The term biopiracy has come to be used to label certain practices of big pharmaceutical and agrochemical companies, that attempt to abuse the traditional knowledge of local plants effects with the aim to appropriate the patents to get financial benefits. Random testing of new effective chemicals is successful in 1:10 000 cases. When using the knowledge of the traditional medicine, the success rate reaches up to 1:2. That could be viewed as a very good connection of the traditional medicine and modern science. Transnational corporations however often get patents for traditional procedures for medicaments production and require that the national governments ban their production.
The most known biopiracy affair is the one of the neem tree, which is widely used in agriculture and cosmetics. In 2005, European Patent Office decided that it is impossible to patent the usage of the neem tree seeds as a fungicide (a substance used to kill fungi and moulds), as the American company Thermo Trilogy had been attempting to. The lawsuit against the patent was provoked by a group of activists lead by an Indian writer named Vandana Shiva. Poor countries however usually do not have enough financial resources to start patent lawsuits. They do not want to risk conflicts with rich countries, in which pharmaceutical and agrochemical companies have lobby groups at their disposal.
Project conception in the Czech Republic: T. Tožička and M. Kreuzzieger
Architectural solution and graphic processing: M.Vavřina, Romy design