Naturex eases maca patents for benefit of Peruvian growers

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Naturex is looking to protect the interests of maca growers and
communities in Peru by loosening restrictions surrounding its
patents on the herbal product.

In a bid to promote sustainability, the French company says it is granting free patent licenses to those companies that are 100 percent Peruvian-owned for the manufacture of maca extract and sale to end users. The company told NutraIngredients-USA the announcement is a means for it to assert its desire to give back to Peruvian maca growers, contrary to allegations the company has been involved in biopiracy. Naturex specializes in plant-based ingredients and gained the maca intellectual property as part of its acquisition of US supplier Pure World in 2005. Research and development of maca for energy and sexual health applications began almost ten years ago and now Naturex supplies two maca products: Maca Pure and Maca Tonic. The traditional herbal is grown at high altitudes in the Andes and involves the work of Peruvian growers and communities. Naturex marketing manager Antoine Dauby said the company has been accused in media reports of illegimately taking resources from vulnerable populations. "This misinformation couldn't be further from the truth,"​ said Dauby. "This plan is to communicate that we have fair intentions." ​ As such, Naturex is making it known that it is not, and it will not, prohibit Peruvian-owned companies from dealing with maca for dietary supplement retail. "What we want is to be fair with the Peruvians,"​ said Dauby. "Because they discovered the benefits of these plants hundreds of years ago." ​ Naturex said it has voluntarily increased the purchasing price it pays to maca growers in the Andean highlands. The company said pressure from foreign buyers has restricted the earning potential of local maca growers, but Naturex does not want to be associated with this type of practice and as such is being vocal with its plans. "This is a way to share,"​ said Dauby. The company, and Pure World, have invested heavily into the scientific research and development of maca. This has been rewarded with the following patents:

  • US patent 6,552,206: "Compositions and methods for preparation from Lepidium"

  • US patent 6,428,824: "Treatment of sexual dysfunction with an extract of Lepidium meyenii roots."

  • US patent 6,267,995: "Extract of Lepidium meyenii roots for pharmaceutical applications"

  • US Patent 6,878,731: "Imidazole alkaloids from Lepidium meyenii and method of usage"

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