Tangerang – Deputy for the Coordination of Natural Resources and Services, Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs, Agung Kuswandono, stated that the National Seminar on the Prevention of Biological Resources Theft (Biopiracy) in Sheraton Airport Hotel, Tangerang, last Monday (28/10), was an important event to discuss the development of Indonesian biological resources potentials for better economic state in the future and the efforts to prevent foreign countries from stealing our biological resources—especially genetic resources and traditional knowledges, or it is more commonly known by the term of biopiracy.
“Indonesia is known as the center of world biodiversity (megabiodiversity) and classified as a country with highest endemism level in the globe. Indonesia has at the very least 47 different natural ecosystems. Those biodiversities are the national potentials and assets and also the basis for improving people’s welfare in the future, or known as the green gold. The biodiversities are potential to be used as food, shelter, medicines, and cosmetics,” said Agung.
“Currently, the utilization of biological resources for industry is still relatively small in Indonesia. Even one of the researches stated that only about 5 percent of our potentials are used for industry,” he continued.
Agung also explained the result of a research stated that from 150 prescribed medicines in the US, 118 of them are based on natural resources, which are 74 percent from plants, 18 percent from fungus, 5 percent from bacteria, and 3 percent from vertebrae like snakes. Medicines with natural ingredients worth USD 40 billion per year. Farmaceutical or medicine industries are big industries, with the estimation of the overall value of the industry was that the natural ingredients value used in the industry range from USD 400 to 900 billions per year.
“Research, technology development, and human resources quality in terms of biological resources should be improved. This matter is in line with the priority programs of Advance Indonesia Cabinet, which is human resources quality improvement. Because if Indonesia does not utilize it, then the huge potentials of biodiversity will be utilized by developed countries and multinational companies,” said Agung.
He then further stated that the biological resources theft, especially in Indonesian genetics resources (biopiracy), is a problem which is detrimental to the economy of Indonesia. This is proved by the fact that many genetics resources such as medicines, industrial and food materials which are patented or taken and used without permission by foreign companies and experts. This would be a bigger problem if the raw materials used in the production by the big pharmaceutical companies are obtained from herbs from some traditional society or plants which only grow in certain areas in Indonesia.
“We hope that this national seminar would be able to identify the problems as recommendations to be followed up and as inputs for the policies improvement, especially the ones related with the access and profit sharing from the utilization of our genetic resources, research licensing strengthening for foreigners, patents and intellectual property rights, and the development of biological resources for businesses and industries,” said Agung.
The National Seminar is a collaboration of Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs and the Ministry of Research and Technology, supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, and several universities. The event was attended by 200 participants from ministries/institutions, regional government, international institutions, business world, and non-governmental organizations.
Furthermore, the Director for Research and Community Service, Directorate General of Research and Development Strengthening, Ministry of Research and Technology, Ocky Karna Radjasa, spoke as one of the keynote speakers on the National Seminar, stated that the National System of Science and Technology Bill allows the protection of biological resources as well as sanctions all parties who violate the regulations related to the foreign researches. The sanctions range from administrative sanctions to criminal penalties.
“Foreign science and technology institutional and/or foreigners and Indonesians who conduct researches, developments, assessments, and applications in Indonesia with foreign fundings will be required to submit the primary data and provide proportional profit sharing in accordance with the agreements among the stakeholders,” said Ocky.
Ocky then stated that each foreigner who conducts breach of obligations as referred to in the Article 76 will be given sanctions in the form of written warnings, development terminations, administrative fines, inclusion of violators in the violation blacklist of Research, Development, Assessment, and Application, and/or revocation of permissions.
He explained that for each foreigners who conducts researches, developments, assessments, and applications without permissions will be given sanctions gradually, starts from administrative sanctions in the form of inclusion in the blacklist to criminal penalties in the form of a maximum fine of IDR 4 billions.
“I want to highlight that the sanctions given to the foreigner researchers without permissions are done gradually. If they conduct the violations repeatedly, they will get criminal penalties. For first violation, it will be administrative sanctions,” said Ocky.
Legal, Partnership, and Information Services Division
Directorate General of Research and Development Strengthening
Ministry of Research and Technology/National Agency for Research and Innovation