The Promotion of Biotechnology in Peru

The Promotion of Biotechnology in Peru


The bill declares of necessity and national priority the development of modern biotechnology and its applications as fundamental factors for the competitiveness, economic development and well-being of the country.

The Bill for the Promotion of Biotechnology in Peru

The bill declares of necessity and national priority the development of modern biotechnology and its applications as fundamental factors for the competitiveness, economic development and well-being of the country.

The bill starts from the fact that modern biotechnology has acquired critical importance for countries, through its potential for industrial, agricultural, fishing and mining economic development, increased food security and nutrition, health human and animal, and the conservation and valorization of biodiversity and the improvement of the environment.

With this introduction, you are outlining the scope of the law, which encompasses areas such as mining and fisheries development, and human health, which are underdeveloped biotechnology fields in the region. However, it makes a reference to biotechnology applied to agriculture when referring to food and nutrition.

Scope of the Law

But let's analyze what kind of biotechnology is the one that you want to promote.

The bill includes the investigation of cells of the human body in whatever stage of development they are, for the purpose of tissue or organ reproduction.

The debate around the world about the use of stem cells or stem cells is very intense. At the moment, there are very few countries in the world where the use of this type of technology is allowed due to ethical and religious reasons. A detailed analysis of this problem was presented in RALLT Bulletin 157.

Many countries have banned this type of practice on religious grounds, including Peru itself, as well as most countries with Catholic majorities in the world.

Stem cells are developed in the hope that they can replace damaged cells in organs or parts of the body. These cells are "totipotent" that is, they are capable of forming an unlimited number of specialized cell types such as blood, nerve cells, etc. For the development of stem cells or stem, a woman needs to donate her eggs, which are fertilized, so that an embryo is formed, which is manipulated to develop the desired type of tissue. At the moment, only South Korea has allowed the application of this technology in the world.

According to Catholic doctrine, the problem of working in research with embryonic germ cells or stem-totipotent cells (also known as “stem cells”) consists in that obtaining the cells implies destroying human embryos at will, which is illicit for the church.

But there are other implications. For example, the bill provides that those who donate eggs to develop stem cells (only women can do so) will be eligible for public funds. In a Third World country such as Peru, this measure could result in a market for eggs from poor women. This leads us to analyze the impacts that these techniques have on the health of donor women, since they receive a very strong hormonal cocktail so that they can release the eggs. Up to 200 eggs can be collected from a single woman. The woman will be affected both by the hormonal cocktail and by the loss of a significant part of her egg supply.

Many of these technologies are developed to treat ailments such as senility. For some authors, senility is a problem related to the role that the elderly occupy in modern societies, and it is a problem that can be better solved by the family and society than through medication.

It is important to mention here that if the use of stem cells were positive, in countries like ours, where there are serious problems in solving diseases that can be solved with a little investment in public health, such as digestive problems that kill thousands of people annually. children, the development of these technologies would have two objectives:

  1. serve as a field of experimentation since the technology is prohibited in most countries of the world
  2. would be available only to the elites who were willing to pay for this technology
  3. A process of stem cell export could take place to affluent countries where the technology is prohibited

But they will in no way help solve public health problems as the bill intends. On the contrary, Peruvian women will expose their health in exchange for a sum of money, if they become egg donors for the development of these investigations.

According to the bill, the cloning of animals and their tissues that are made for utilitarian purposes, or the cloning of human tissue for use to improve human health, is permissible. Human cloning is allowed in a few countries in the world for therapeutic purposes, provided that the embryo is destroyed at a certain embryonic stage.

About Intellectual Property

The bill considers that new legislation is necessary to adopt and maintain a legal framework that protects the property of intellectual creations and the results of scientific research and technological development in the various fields of modern biotechnology in the country, through a system of patents for invention, utility models and other legal instruments for intellectual protection ad hoc.

Although the bill provides that entire organisms that exist naturally or that have been modified by modern biotechnology are exempted from the patent system, what will happen to embryos or clones made from human cells. Who owns the intellectual property of said embryos or clones? Will donor women lose the rights to their own cells? What are the ethical implications of patenting the human being?

Just as a measure of comparison, in a report presented by the Commission of the European Communities to the European Parliament and the European Council (COM (2005) 312 final.
SEC (2005) 943, July 14, 2005) establishes that it is not possible to use the same principles that apply to the patentability of plants, animals and microorganisms, to any material isolated from the human body, and concludes:

"Although it can be argued from a simple reading the provisions of the Directive (European Patents) in the sense that there is no objective reason to limit the traditional protection, in terms of patent law, to inventions related to sequences or partial sequences genes isolated from the human body, there are other aspects related to ethics, research and economics that must be taken into account ...

In light of the analysis made by the Commission, totipotent stem cells should not be patentable, due to considerations related to human dignity.

Although there is no immediate answer to the questions related to the patentability of embryonic stem cells, at this moment it seems very premature to reach a definitive conclusion ”.

On Ethical Considerations

Since this law covers such complicated areas of biotechnology and with strong bioethical implications, such as the use of stem cells that involves the creation of viable human embryos, as well as human cloning, the issue of bioethics should be an imperative in this law. However, the subject of bioethics is treated superficially.

In the section on ethical considerations, the bill says:
"It is the option of any citizen to dispose of cells from their body in any state of development that they are for the purpose of reproducing tissues or organs for replacement or donation, within the limitations of the Law regarding the form of donation, which will not be a reason for income for the donor ”.

"Research that uses stem cells resulting from personal or institutional donations will be eligible for public funds."

"The cloning of animals and their tissues that are done for utilitarian purposes, or the cloning of human tissue for use to improve human health is permissible."

The cloning of whole human beings is not permissible ”.

The entire debate on bioethics is reduced to these general considerations. It would be important to know what the different sectors of Peruvian society think about this bill.

About Other Branches of Biotechnology

In addition to the promotion of technologies related to the human body, it is indicated in the bill that other fields of biotechnology will be promoted, such as its application to mining, fishing and agriculture.

In the field of mining, biotechnology could be applied in the so-called bio remediation, which is the use of microorganisms in environmental decontamination. There are many criticisms of these techniques for not having adequately evaluated their consequences on the environment.

Regarding fishing, there has been a lot of opposition to the development of genetically modified fish, among other reasons, because it is impossible to ensure their confinement, which would endanger native populations, which can result in a serious problem for Peru, a country which depends heavily on fish exports, which can be affected by possible genetic contamination events. Impacts can also be generated on artisanal fishing that sustains the local population, both in terms of consumer health, natural fish populations and the environment in which they develop.

Finally, we have agricultural biotechnology, whose impacts have been widely analyzed. Perhaps it is only necessary to remember that Peru is the center of origin and diversity of crops of great importance such as potatoes, cotton and corn, crops that are on the cusp of genetic manipulation.

On the Uncertainty of New Technologies

Since the purpose of this bill is to venture into fields that other countries have not ventured, at least with force, since most countries in the region have given greater importance to the agricultural application of biotechnology, there should be many uncertainties on the application of these new technologies. In effect, the bill addresses the issue of uncertainties as follows:

“… It is evident that there is great ignorance of the economic potential of biotechnology, among other sciences, and also that, in relation to other industrial sectors, projects in this field have a significantly higher risk. Due to such circumstances, entrepreneurs have many difficulties in making decisions to invest in this area and do not have sufficient support in terms of advice ”.

This implies that there is uncertainty at the investment level, and that for this reason, financial incentives must be created for investment in these branches of biotechnology. In fact, there is a whole section that deals with the incentives that biotechnology companies that wish to invest in Peru will receive, as transcribed below:

"Article 14.- Incentive Regime
New companies, or existing ones that decide to invest in research and development activities in modern biotechnology, will have a tax and tariff holidays of all kinds for a period of 15 years as of the date on which your applications and operation plans, for this purpose, are approved by CONCYTEC and by the Ministry of your sector.

Article 15.- Tax Treatment
Companies of all kinds that decide to reinvest their reserves or profits in research and development programs that lead to the production of modern biotechnology goods and services in their own companies, or in association with other institutions, will enjoy the benefit of the reduction of the payment of your income taxes by an amount equivalent to 130% of the amount invested, up to a maximum of 50% of the profits, as long as their investment programs have been approved by CONCYTEC and the Ministry of the corresponding sector.

Article 16.- Exonerations
Remain exempted from paying tariffs and other import duties those goods, which are not produced in the country, necessary for research and development in modern biotechnology, of companies, associations, universities and institutes of the State, which have previously registered their research and development project in CONCYTEC and whose import lists have previously approved by CONCYTEC ”.

About Biosecurity

The National Executive Biotechnology Commission (CONEBIO) is created, attached to CONCYTEC, made up of government, academic and business representatives. The CONEBIO shall:

"To ensure that the development of modern biotechnology is in harmony with the current regulations on biosafety, and to collaborate with the competent bodies and bodies in the adoption and application of the regulation on biosafety in all its aspects and related fields."

The National Advisory Commission on Biosafety in modern biotechnology is also created to support CONEBIO in all matters related to biosafety. However, the biosecurity standard must be in accordance with Article.

Article 2 establishes that:
"This Law regulates and promotes scientific research, technological development and business innovation resulting from the applications of modern biotechnology in the country, optimizing economic benefits in harmony with human health and with the preservation of the environment."

This means that technical development and business innovation must be above biosecurity standards. What's more, the bill adds that biosecurity standards should not be limiting for the development of modern biotechnology.

About Citizen Participation

A consultation mechanism for the population is created, which is the National Biotechnology Forum (FONABIO), whose objective is to relate citizens with updated information on Biotechnology and receive their opinions by creating a means of consultation and educated opinion. The public does not participate in the decision-making process about the biotechnological development that will take place in that country, and those who participate in the consultation process must have an educated opinion. Does this mean that those who do not have a certain academic level will be excluded, even if they are directly affected?

Traditional Knowledge Vs Modern Biotechnology

The bill states in its introduction that "in today's globalized world, to break dependency and shorten the technological gap, there is a need to promote and develop scientific research, technological development, technology transfer and business innovation making use of of Biotechnology in Peru ”.

Peru is a country with a very rich cultural legacy, above all related to the use of biodiversity, understood in its broadest conception, which includes the productive systems of the different regions of the country. This knowledge could be promoted and enhanced with a much lower budget than the one proposed in this bill, and with much better results at the local and national economy level.

However, the bill targets so-called modern biotechnology.

This proposed law constitutes an open letter not only for the entry of agricultural transgenics to Peru, which could have very serious impacts on these traditional production systems, but could also turn Peru into a field of experimentation for technologies not approved or accepted in other parts of the world.


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