Bio-prospecting permits issued

2012-07-28 18:01
Edna Molewa. (Sapa)

Edna Molewa. (Sapa)

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Bloemfontein - South Africa has issued seven bio-prospecting permits which will also benefit regional owners of traditional knowledge.

A permit for the extraction of chemical compounds from the shrub Kraalbos was handed to Rapitrade 670 by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa at Komaggas in the Northern Cape.

"The community of Komaggas... would receive both monetary and non-monetary benefits," said Molewa.

Kraalbos is predominantly found in the Northern Cape and would be used for the production of products such as soaps and herbicides.

A Section 21 company has been established for the Komaggas community to receive 5% of all distributable cash reserves, after costs, at the end of each financial year.

The Khoi Heritage Foundation, which represents the holders of traditional knowledge about the Kraalbos, would also receive 1% of all distributable cash reserves after costs at the end of each financial year.

In both instances the financial benefits would continue until a point deemed appropriate by the directors of Rapitrade 670.


Molewa introduced a guideline document for providers, users and regulators in the sector, entitled "South Africa's Bio prospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing Regulatory Framework (BABS)".

The country’s regulations for bio-prospecting, access and benefit sharing came into effect in April 2008. Eight permits had been issued thus far.

The first was awarded in 2010 to HGH Pharmaceuticals for international research on Sceletium tortosium, a succulent herb commonly referred to as Kanna.

HGH Pharmaceuticals was working with Gehrlicker GmbH, a German-based company, to commercialise the product as a stress reducing, concentration enhancing, and mood elevating substance.

Molewa reiterated that the export of any indigenous biological resource for bio-prospecting or any other kind of research first had to be permitted.

The BABS regulations set out the requirements and criteria for benefit-sharing and material transfer agreements.

Other bio-prospecting permits were officially awarded to different organisations to start prospecting activities.


They provide for, amongst others, the trade in Aloe ferox sap. A permit was also awarded for the cultivation, processing and marketing of herbal products containing active ingredients from 40 indigenous biological resources.

Some of the commercial products produced treat congestion and asthma and boost the immune system.

Another permit was awarded for the development of the Sclerechilton illicifolius plant as a natural sweetener.

Molewa said South Africa’s natural and cultural resources underpinned a large part of the economy. Many people were dependent on them for employment, food, shelter, medicine and spiritual wellbeing.

The use of indigenous plants and animals contributed to the creation of jobs and skills development.

Read more on:    edna molewa  |  health

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