Tag Archives: food

Netherlands court strikes down Dutch grifter’s patent claim over Ethiopia’s ancient staple grain teff

13 Feb

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory( TEO)

Teff is one of the oldest grains to have been cultivated, a staple for so long that its original cultivation date is lost to history and can only be estimated at between 1000 and 4000 BCE; it is best known as the main ingredient in injera, the soft pancakes that are served with Ethiopian meals.

In 2003, a Dutch human named Jans Roosjen filed a patent on teff, claiming to have invented it, and demanding a halt to virtually every means of preparing the grain. Roosjen ran an agronomy corporation that partnered with the Ethiopian government to market teff in Europe, which then went bankrupt after paying Ethopia a mere €4000. But before the bankruptcy, Roosjen and his company had filed their patent application by lying and claiming that the manner used for storing and processing teff was a novel invention.

As the patent holder for teff, Roosjen struck lucrative deals with other EU companies — and froze Ethiopia and its people out of access to European markets. Ethiopia itself lacked the resources to invalidate Roosjen’s patent, so it remained in force until Roosjen threatened another Dutch company for making teff without paying him for a license. Roosjen’s patent was invalidated in 2014, and this week, the deadline for an appeal passed, meaning that the patent is now permanently dead.

Intellectual property is a grifter’s best friend: grifters aren’t mere con artists, they’re the impressarios of immersive LARPs in which you are guided to signing contracts that say that everything you own is really something you misappropriated from them, and by continuing to use your stuff, you are nothing but a lawless cur.

The connection between IP trolling and settler colonialism is strong and not coincidental. If you’re going to claim that something everyone is using belongs to no one, then it helps if the people you’re misappropriating have no access to power or justice. In some ways, Roosjen is just Aloha Poke, by another name — a scam that steals an ancient foodstuff, and not just an ancient word.

The furor over the teff ownership comes at a time when Africans are increasingly raising questions about creative and artistic theft, cultural appropriation, and pushing to reclaim their narrative. This is especially being amplified by the internet and social media, where online petitions are agitating for change, including most recently on Disney’s trademarking of the Swahili phrase “Hakuna Matata.”

Following the controversy of French and American companies trying to trademark rooibos tea, South Africa sought and won a “geographic indicator status” over the product, meaning goods made in the country and approved by the government could only use the name. In Kenya, Benin, Nigeria, and beyond, artists and museum curators are also seeking the return of looted artifacts kept in Western museums across the world.

/Boing Boing (blog)



How Ethiopia lost control of its teff genetic resources: Lessons to be learned

Risks of Ethiopia losing its natural resources: The case of teff as example

Over 13 million Ethiopians still dependent on international humanitarian assistance

30 Sep

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory

This is about the Afar region, where there continues to be huge tension between the state and local people, instead of signs of development. It is a story of 13.5 million people in a very unfortunate situation (6.5 million people in need of emergency assistance and another seven million sustaining themselves through food or cash aid. That is why our approach to politics and development need to go through fundamental changes, governance to become transparent and accountable.

(Courtsey ofintrospezione)

Is EPRDF Council on-going session truly dominated by motley of Ethiopia’s problems, or the party’s?

10 Sep

by Keffyalew Gebremedhin, posted by The Ethiopia Observatory


    It is reported that the Council finished its meetings Tuesday evening. Unfortunately, it has not decided to tell the public anything new. The brief news items spoke of the usual stuff about GTE and problems of bad governance. In the case of the latter, it stressed the need for serious efforts to change the situation, according to Fana.



At such an important moment for Ethiopians, when the nation is preparing to greet its Year 2006, the country’s ruling party has been in session for three days now. We are told that the council is deliberating, among others, on good governance issues. By definition, it means that the TPLF/EPRDF is discussing its own record of failures in delivering the services the nation has been in need of and demanding, without much success this far.
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