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Biopiracy: storm in a teacup

If a landmark deal sticks, poorer nations will get a stake in profits from their genetic resources

By Robin Powell   December 2010

Harvesters transport a load of wild rooibos tea by donkey cart in the remote mountains of the Cederberg region, about 300km north of Cape Town. The tea is unique to the area

While many of us enjoy a cup of rooibos tea now and again, few will know that the plant which is the source of the distinctive amber-red brew is one of the latest flashpoints in a global row over “biopiracy,” or the misappropriation of genetic resources.

Although drunk all over the world in a fashionable, antioxidant, no-caffeine tea, the rooibos plant is indigenous only to the Western Cape…

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