Zurich/Lausanne, 16. November 2016
The Guarani that discovered stevia's sweetening properties do not receive any share of the benefits arising from of its commercial use, in clear breach of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol. While the indigenous peoples are reclaiming their rights, the Basel-based company Evolva indicated its willingness to negotiate an agreement with the Guarani. Nestlé, meanwhile, supports the benefit-sharing principle, but has not made any specific commitment yet. But Coca-Cola, which is one of the main users of steviol glycosides, is not even acknowledging the basic problem. Therefore a petition is launched to convince the American soft drink giant to end its biopiracy.
A year ago, an international coalition of NGOs* and scientific institutions revealed the dark side of the boom of stevia-derived sweeteners. They specifically demanded that companies using or producing stevia-derived sweeteners (steviol glycosides) engage in negotiations with the Guarani on a fair and equitable benefit-sharing agreement. Since then, the Pai Tavytera and Kaiowa people, who live across the Paraguayan and Brazilian borders, have reclaimed their rights. In a joint declaration, they denounce the "multinationals that make profits from [their] knowledge and [their] biodiversity" and demand from those companies that they start negotiating with them.
A report (PDF, 2.1 MB)published by Public Eye and its partners today tells the story of their battle and presents first responses from the companies. Some of the Swiss companies contacted seem to be willing to accept their responsibility. The most positive responses came from Evolva. The company, which has a joint-venture with Cargill to produce steviol glycosides using synthetic biology, said that it " would be willing to engage in discussions re benefit sharing with the Guarani as per the spirit of the CBD". Nestlé said it fully supports this principle too, and is “currently evaluating the possibility of further engaging into the issue”.
Meanwhile the American giant Coca-Cola has refused to even consider the possibility of an agreement. And it continues misusing the image of the Guarani to increase the sales of “Coca-Cola Life”. That’s why Public Eye, France Libertés and SumOfUs have launched a petition to pressure the US company into negotiating a benefit-sharing agreement with the Guarani, and put an end to its biopiracy.
For more information click here or contact:
Laurent Gaberell, Public Eye, +41 (0)21 620 06 15, laurent.gaberell(at)publiceye.ch
Exclusive photos of the gathering of the Guarani people are available here, all rights reserved: © LuisVera
*Public Eye (formerly the Berne Declaration), CEIDRA, Misereor, Pro Stevia Switzerland, SUNU