This from Patent News (Greg Aharonian's newsletter) 7-8-15:
Amazon Tribe Creates Encyclopedia of Their Traditional Medicine. Interesting development in biodiversity. An Amazon tribe, the Matses people of Brazil and Peru, have created a 500-page encyclopedia of knowledge of their traditional medicine, compiled by five shaman with the assistance of a conservation group. Interestingly, the encyclopedia is only available in the language of the Matses, since they don't want their knowledge stolen by corporations or researchers. Here is part of the story of their distrust:
Unfortunately, history abounds with examples of theft from indigenous peoples. For the MatsÚs in particular, it is all too real. The skin secretions of the giant monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) are used in hunting rituals by the MatsÚs. The secretions, rich in a diversity of bioactive peptides, are administered directly into the body through application onto fresh burn or cut-wounds. Within moments, the toxins induce intense cardiovascular and autonomic responses, ultimately leading to a state of altered consciousness and heightened sensory acuity.
Although the range of the giant monkey frog extends across northern Amazonia, only the MatsÚs and a small number of neighboring Panoan tribes have been recorded to use its powerful secretions. After reports of the MatsÚs use of it emerged from the forest, investigations of the frog's secretions in the laboratory revealed a complex cocktail of peptides with potent vasoactive, narcotic, and antimicrobial properties. Several pharmaceutical companies and universities filed patents on the peptides without recognition of indigenous peoples for which it has long held a unique and important role in their culture. One antifungal peptide from the frog was even transgenically inserted into a potato.
They have taken some interest steps to protect the knowledge:
AcatÚ and the MatsÚs developed an innovative methodology to protect their ancestral medicinal plant knowledge from extinction while safeguarding the sensitive information from theft by outside parties. The Encyclopedia is written only in MatsÚs. It is by and for the MatsÚs and no translations will be made into Spanish or English. No scientific names are included nor photographs of flowers or other easily identifiable characteristics of the plants to outsiders.
The full story is available at: Amazon tribe creates 500-page traditional medicine encyclopedia