bio·​pi·​ra·​cy ¦bī-(ˌ)ō-¦pī-rə-sē How to pronounce biopiracy (audio)
: the unethical or unlawful appropriation or commercial exploitation of biological materials (such as medicinal plant extracts) that are native to a particular country or territory without providing fair financial compensation to the people or government of that country or territory
The 60-year-old scientist was dwelling in semi-isolation, having … lost his job at a Brazilian research institute and been charged with a raft of offenses, including misusing government property and violating Brazil's biopiracy laws.Joshua Hammer, Smithsonian, February 2008
Turmeric is a poster child for one of the most noted intellectual-property cases on biopiracy, which pitted an Indian government-supported research organization against a 1995 patent issued to the University of Mississippi for the use of the spice for wound healing.Gary Stix, Scientific American, February 2007
biopirate noun
plural biopirates
Indigenous people are at the mercy of biopirates who steal their traditional knowledge of medicinal plants. Stephen Leahy, New Scientist, 28 Feb. 2004

Word History

First Known Use

1993, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of biopiracy was in 1993

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Dictionary Entries Near biopiracy

Cite this Entry

“Biopiracy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

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