Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Lamont Lindstrom
Friday, December 11, 2009
The difficulty is to both push kava into global markets while protecting local rights to the plant.
Dr. Lamont Lindstrom, Professor of Anthropogy and Chair of the Department, publishes new article on intellectual property rights and kava. Lindstrom’s article discusses cultural property rights concerning kava, the traditional South Pacific pepper plant that has pharmacological and psychoactive properties. His article, “Kava Pirates in Vanuatu?)” appears in the recent issue (vol 16) of the International Journal of Cultural Property.
Cultural property activists have worried about the bioprospecting, or even biopiracy, of kava (Piper methysticum), a plant exchanged and consumed for many Pacific social and ritual purposes. By the 1990s, kava and concoctions made from the plant's component kavalactones were increasingly popular products within global markets for recreational and medicinal drugs. Starting in 2002, however, a number of European countries among others banned kava imports after initial reports that some heavy users suffered liver damage. This has complicated the kava story as producer efforts shifted from protecting rights to the plant to reopening blocked export markets. The difficulty is to both push kava into global markets while protecting local rights to the plant. A promising strategy may be developing consumer awareness of geographic indicators and “noble” kava varieties that Vanuatu's local producers may control yet globally market as “the best in the world.”
International Journal of Cultural Property (vol 16)