Indigenous peoples are facing a new wave of colonization, this time at the molecular level. Advances in molecular biology have enabled scientists to identify unique genetic data in human DNA. Since indigenous populations represent a significant percentage of the world’s human diversity, we are also priority subjects for scientific curiosity. Genetic research raises a complex range of legal, ethical and social issues. In this new age of bio-prospecting, indigenous knowledge and biological resources are extremely threatened by appropriation.
Te Waka Kai Ora is dedicated to working in partnership with other indigenous organisations, such as the International Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, to share current information on the issue of biopiracy and what can be done about it. We have also been involved with the Waitangi Tribunal Indigenous Flora and Fauna Inquiry (Wai 262) and have actively sort to challenge the introduction of legislation such as ANZTPA. Te Waka Kai Ora is very aware that these kinds of bi-lateral agreements fail to recognise indigenous rights and jurisdictions over our territories or to our collective intellectual and cultural knowledge and genetic resources. Tribes must prepare to protect their biological resources from exploitation.