Rich in diversity and small in size, Sri Lanka lacks mechanisms to protect its natural treasures. There are at least 19 patent licenses for products based on a native plant that has traditionally been used to treat diabetes. All of them but one are in foreign pockets.
It is known as “biopiracy” – the practice of using and commercially exploiting the biological resources and indigenous knowledge of a country without permission or compensation. That is, making money with poor people’s knowledge.