Jatun Sacha Foundation and Bioprivateering: Dodgy Business as Usual

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As a curious reader of the blog stats is has once again been brought to my attention that there is widespread interest for information about the Jatun Sacha Foundation’s involvement in what is sometimes wrongly called biopiracy. There was never anything privately owned in the first place, as was the case when pirates liberated goods from the capitalist (slave) ships, hence bioprivateering is more to the point.

Colonos have previously posted about Jatun Sacha twice (1/2) and when looking in the stats today I noticed that quite a few people were clicking on the external link to see some proofs of the allegations. So I thought I’d save people some clicking and reading and excavate with a bit of gimping some of the relevant paragraphs of the Rafi Communique, September-October 1995 for all to easily see:


Biopiracy Update: A Global Pandemic

Download PDF Download PDF (2 MB) – about 348 seconds on a 56k modem

Cases from Thailand, Gabon, Ecuador, and Peru

RAFI is now called www.etcgroup.org

10 thoughts on “Jatun Sacha Foundation and Bioprivateering: Dodgy Business as Usual

    Royanne said:
    Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 05:54 (287)

    Well, apparently whoever was financing Jatun Sacha pulled out for whatever reason. I would love to hear an update about the balsa trees that are being cut and illegally sold by locals. No one knows if Jatun Sacha is even open and functioning. The medicinal garden is abandoned and I hear that there is only one employee for the 2000 hectares due to lack of funds. I wish that some of that million dollars of investment was around now, don’t you?

      colono responded:
      Sunday, November 7, 2021 at 18:18 (804)

      Thanks for your comment!

      To answer (without knowing what is actually happening there): No, I don’t think that I do. I wish that the land had never been privatised and that anyone who had the means and abilities to do anything there on such a scale would have, instead, helped the locals guard the forest in the way they have been doing well for thousands of years: collectively and in habitat enriching ways. Money is not the solution. Money causes conflict. Private, exclusive ownership causes conflict and is – anyway, as we now sadly see – unstable in the long run.

      The unfolding of events – if you are correct that it simply has been left behind – seem to show just that and, as such, it reinforces the point about the nature of the project being extraction on a short-term basis, rather than in the long-term service of the forest and its people.

        Royanne said:
        Sunday, November 7, 2021 at 19:00 (833)

        I cannot speak with any information about Pfizer but I do know that Jatun Sacha was created as a biological reserve and an interchange source for Missouri Botanical Gardens’ taxonomy efforts to preserve, document and grow species in danger of extinction from logging and new roads as well as slash and burn policies that create cattle farms.. I lived in that area for many years and know it well. When Jatun Sacha first came about, the rivers had been depleted of fish by use of dynamite from mystizo and Quechua fishermen. There was no ecotourism. The area was over hunted. Everything was killed that was moving. Jatun Sacha was a viable reserve for so many years and protected the land. But in one way I do agree with you. It was just too huge, 2,200 hectares. It is difficult to control areas of that size in that kind of terraine. And the locals were not involved. And many more Jatun Sachas were set up over Ecuador, much too big to handle. It is an interesting theme of “what went wrong” and “less is more”.Most of all, it has been basically abandoned thru lack of funds. The land sits there, it is being logged illegally by neighbors, primarily of balsa. And although some of us have complained, I have yet to hear a response from Jatun Sacha.

    colono responded:
    Sunday, November 7, 2021 at 20:18 (887)

    It is difficult not to suspect that bioprospecting simply came to an end. The gold rush is over.

    Do I note a certain blame-apportioning on locals about the state of biodiversity affairs?

      Royanne said:
      Sunday, November 7, 2021 at 21:42 (946)

      Yes, you picked up on some blame because that is what was happening at that time and is happening now. People are poor and just getting by and bend rules. So it is cause and effect. But responsability lies there also with locals as antecedents as well as foreign newcomers in the 1985, the inception of Jatun Sacha with its grandios scale of vision. Colonists came in years ago, 50s and 60s, the jungle was a free-for-all, it was pilfered for what it could provide. Government gave away chain saws and barbed wire, and outboard motors. Free land plots of 55 meters each to be worked. It was a heavy survival situation and the Yumbo Quechua and Guarani were pushed back by mistizos. There is much much more going on, but the end result was the dismemberment of the integrity of the jungle. and what you romantically call The Forest People, The real Forest People had disappeared long ago. That was what Jatun Sacha found when it came into existence. It tried to correct a situation by superimposing another system that brings new problems – from the outside and as you refernce, a capitalist mindset came in and contaminated what could have been a visionary and wholesome endeavor.

    Royanne said:
    Sunday, November 7, 2021 at 23:20 (014)

    This does not apply any longer to the modern local, as you state ” the locals guard the forest in the way they have been doing well for thousands of years: collectively and in habitat enriching ways”. Everyone has been exploiting this jungle for the last 70 years at least, so it is now a process of reeducation and relearning for everyone, meaning both locals as well as any foreign establishments that should decide to exist there. The locals finally realized after almost destroying the jungle, that people want to see the habitat of the Hwatzin bird as well as wild pigs, tamarins, and botanical diversity. Jatun Sacha sought to preserve what was left, but yes, the idea of limitless expansion as is expected from an administration dictated from the States, which in pure capitalistic style of increased annual profit brought it down.

    I wish that others would enter into this conversation. The reason that I even entered into this site is that I am looking for information as to the current status of Jatun Sacha and I am not coming up with anything. There is a listed board of directors, but I can find little online activity or commentary from visitors.

    I prefer to be in a position of Devil’s Advocate. There are many grey areas here, and as a subsistence farmer I was related as family and friends to some of the locals and neighbors. I, of course, understand them very well and they do what they do to survive in that world. On the other hand, I am intimately aware of many good acts that Jatun Sacha achieved. This is not black and white, “Jatun Sacha is bad, locals are good” as I intuit that you are stating. That is plain naive and an unnuanced solution to perceiving what happened there.

    colono responded:
    Monday, November 8, 2021 at 10:18 (471)

    I am not sure this conversation is going so well. Perhaps text/comment fields are not so useful for an emotional topic. We are quite familiar with the region and its history, having done research and built alliances there with people since 2005. A friend used to work at JS and was not paid – that’s going back about a decade and was what spawned the posts in the first place and led to the discovery of the close association of the park’s funders to the then optimistic bioprospecting industry. Of course nothing is entirely black and white, the cosmos is grey, but if you want to advocate for the devil, it is maybe difficult to respond appropriately. Not quite sure what to write. Text is a low-bandwidth, high noise/low signal medium, I think, so simple, plain speak is conducive. I reckon.

    Can we agree that we prefer trees and community building and collective minga-based forest management over foreign influx of extractive industries and fence building to “protect”?

      Royanne said:
      Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 17:03 (752)

      Yes,of course as a devil’s advocate, I agree “we prefer trees and community building and collective minga-based forest management over foreign influx of extractive industries and fence building to “protect”.

      Ahora es el momento de que me vaya, siento que entré en un ambiente hostil donde usted decidió su posición hace años en 2005. Esto no es un diálogo, es el mantenimiento de su opinión original. Chao

    colono responded:
    Monday, November 8, 2021 at 10:20 (472)

    This blog is also kind of defunct and constitute a much earlier incarnation of our lives. There’s been no real updates in a long time. Much of what is said here is in a tone that my older self would not use. Outgrown.

      R said:
      Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 17:08 (756)

      It sounds like the same tone to me

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