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Accepted Paper:

Bioprospecting in South Africa: new hopes, old troubles  
Britta Rutert

Paper long abstract:

This paper is based on research done in South Africa from January 2009 to February 2010. Essential question of this research was to analyse how traditional knowledge around medicinal plants is protected by various stakeholders. Medicinal plants were followed from a particular govermental laboratory (Indigenous Knowledge Health Lead Programm) to local communities and individual knowledge holders to gather ways of knowledge protection. In the emerging field of bioprospecting the discrepancies between searching for new chemical compounds for future medicinal properties and the protection of knowledge becomes salient. Within this tension secrecy is a major aspect of knowledge protection on individual, community and institutional level. On the other hand, new hopes for "big bugs" and the new opportunity to claim medicinal plants are created through the advent of traditional knowledge promotion by the state. South Africa`s political past and its economic present does play a vital role in this ambivalent realm.

Panel W121
Uncertainties, risk and socio-political change: medical pluralism and diverse agencies
  Session 1