Indigenous knowledge as intellectual property
The traditional Onge people of the Indian Nicobar and Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal possess important indigenous knowledge and thus are attracting the intense interest of northern multinational corporations and associated wealth elites. Indigenous knowledge spans medicine, biology, and ecology and holds great wealth-maximizing potential. There is a strong public purpose interest in greater community access to indigenous knowledge-derived products, especially pharmaceuticals. The public purpose goals are best achieved by policies which preserve Onge social organization, and which protect the group’s rights by insuring that key decisions about the disposition of its indigenous knowledge are left in its control. A critical factor in policy design is the Onge reservoir of social capital including customary law features.
KeywordsSocial Capital Intellectual Property Indigenous People Indigenous Knowledge Indigenous Group
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