The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) fired criticism at the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Biological Diversity Convention COP-8). Both organizations met in Curitiba last week.
According to forum participants, the COP-8 made no progress toward establishing international norms on access to genetic resources or protecting traditional knowledge.
The IIFB had been hoping for the creation of a worldwide system of rules for plant and animal research which would safeguard their folk wisdom. The Indigenous Forum wants to set up mechanisms that will permit profit and technology sharing with local communities.
"We are deeply concerned because now that the conference has been concluded we see that we are further than ever from achieving our objectives. We remain committed to two objectives: natural resource conservation and the repartition of benefits.
"Those issues were not dealt with. The COP-8 concentrated its efforts on a third objective which is the commercial use of natural resources," complained Viviana Figueroa, who leads an indigenous group, the Umaguaca, from Argentina.
Donna House, an American who is a member of the Navajo Nation, declared that the COP-8 just did not manage to deal with the main issues of protecting Indian rights and shielding biodiversity and native cultures from destruction.
"The rich nations must respect the reality of our existence," said Anísio Guato, of the Canoeiros tribe, that lives in the Pantanal, state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil.
Lourdes Amos, from the Kankana tribe in the Philippines, criticized the fact that the Indigenous representatives were not permitted active participation in the COP-8, but were just observers.
"We were allowed to speak, but our opinions were not taken into consideration when they were trying to reach a consensus," she said.
Representatives of the Indigenous Forum said there was only one step taken in the right direction at COP-8, and that was to maintain the strict prohibition on terminator seeds.