Taro Patents In Native Hawaiian Hands - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Taro Patents In Native Hawaiian Hands

William Aila William Aila

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Native Hawaiians will soon get their hands on the blueprint of hybridized taro as the University of Hawaii gives up three patents.

But some who have been protesting this process still aren't satisified.

Protestors feel that there shouldn't be a patent on the plant. Especially one that is so sacred in Hawaiian culture.

The groups protested the schools controlling of the patents. U.H. holds three patents on the hybrid taro.

That means farmers who want to grow the plant had to pay the school a licensing fee.

In Hawaiian mythology, the taro plant is said to be the older brother of man, so it's believed to be not only a food, but part of their geneology.  

William Aila a Native Hawaiian activist says, "I don't think that a sacred, culturally significant plant, such as the taro, should never be owned, and I believe it should be left in the hands of the people and the agricultural commons, as it has been for centuries in Hawaii the fact that genes are being taken from plants especially taro, and used by companies to profit from. And in the case of taro, which is a very spiritual and culturally important crop, no one should benefit monitarily from that crop."

In a statement, the university said it has a strong desire to maintain appropriate respect and sensitivity to the Hawaiian culture. And that was part of the reason it decided to assign the patents.

School officials are now talking to those in the Native Hawaiian community to determine who will hold the patents.

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