Thais plan to protect remedy

HighBeam Research

Title: Thais plan to protect remedy.(News)

Date: October 20, 1998 Publication: The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

A THAI herbal remedy considered an aid to fairer skin, healthy hair and firmer breasts should be protected by law to stop it being exploited by foreigners, a scientist said today.

The government needs to prevent foreign companies with purely commercial interests from exploiting the herb kwaao khruea (Pueraria mirifica), said Associate Professor Dr Wichai Cherdshewasert.

“Already there is an Asian company looking to invest in a plantation to grow the herb locally,” said Wichai, a researcher at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. “With commercial interests in mind, they could easily slip in a new gene and patent it as a new genetic line.”

Wichai is hoping for quick passage by Parliament of a bill intended to protect plant species existing in nature and newly modified varieties.

There has been increasing concern in Thailand over the past two years about “bio-piracy” of local natural resources by developed countries.

The white variety of the kwaao khruea herb, grown in northern Thailand, has been widely used by women in rural communities for several decades.

Wichai said the herb helps stimulate oestrogen production. This can help women with low levels of female hormones.

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