Nigella sativa -- more commonly known as fennel flower -- has been used
as a cure-all remedy for over a thousand years. It treats everything
from vomiting to fevers to skin diseases, and has been widely available
in impoverished communities across the Middle East and Asia.
But now Nestlé is claiming to own it, and filing patent claims
around the world to try and take control over the natural cure of the
fennel flower and turn it into a costly private drug.
Tell Nestlé: Stop trying to patent a natural cure
In a paper published last year, Nestlé scientists claimed to “discover”
what much of the world has known for millennia: that nigella sativa
extract could be used for “nutritional interventions in humans with food
But instead of creating an artificial substitute, or fighting to make sure the remedy was widely available, Nestlé is attempting to create a nigella sativa monopoly and gain the ability to sue anyone using it without Nestlé’s permission. Nestlé has filed patent applications -- which are currently pending -- around the world.
Prior to Nestlé's outlandish patent claim, researchers in
developing nations such as Egypt and Pakistan had already published
studies on the same curative powers Nestlé is claiming as its own.
And Nestlé has done this before -- in 2011, it tried to claim credit
for using cow’s milk as a laxative, despite the fact that such knowledge
had been in Indian medical texts for a thousand years.
Don’t let Nestlé turn a traditional cure into a corporate cash cow.
We know Nestlé doesn’t care about ethics. After all, this is the
corporation that poisoned its milk with melamine, purchases cocoa from
plantations that use child slave labor, and launched a breast milk
substitute campaign in the 1970s that contributed to the suffering and
deaths of thousands of babies from poor communities.
But we also know that Nestlé is sensitive to public outcry, and that
it's been beaten at the patent game before. If we act fast, we can put
enough pressure on Nestlé to get it to drop its patent plans before they
harm anyone -- but if we want any chance at affecting Nestlé's
decision, we have to speak out now!
Third World Network (PDF): Food giant Nestlé claims to have invented stomach soothing use of habbat al-barakah (Nigella sativa), 6 July, 2012