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Kambo banned by TGA

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A deadly frog mucous used in shamanic rituals in Australia has been banned by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

In “Kambo” ceremonies, a participant’s skin is burned and scraped and the secretions of the South American giant leaf frog (or giant monkey frog) is rubbed into the wound. There is no medicinal benefit to Kambo and it can be lethal.

The TGA has listed it as a schedule 10 poison, in the category for “substances of such danger to health as to warrant prohibition of sale, supply and use”.

It noted that Australians have adopted Kambo rituals from traditional indigenous ceremonies in South America.


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I feel safer now...

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A victory for frogs, maybe. But First Nations' people's rights to practice traditional culture and cosmology? (Imagine if it had been an Indigenous folk remedy that were banned -- on stolen land. Absurd.)


Ultimately, the imposition of this ban (like most TGA determinations) is about the exercise of authoritarian control -- another feather in the cap of western medico-legal expertise -- to the exclusion of other ways of knowing. I doubt that anyone at the TGA is genuinely concerned for the health of vulnerable people (least of all Yamanawa natives, many of whom may be directly targeted by this prohibition -- i.e. discriminated against).


Arguably the real danger of kambo is not the substance per se, but its use in non-traditional social contexts: 


Joaquim Luz, a Yamanawa leader, criticized commercial sales and kambo's use without the preparation or permission of indigenous peoples, saying that the toxin users are at risk of death. ... Other native groups have also expressed concerns.... (from Wikipedia)


Let me hazard a wild guess: Kambo is currently subject to western intellectual property claims, or at the very least scientific research, in order to facilitate the inevitable transfer of the wealth of Indigenous knowledge to its proper custodians, Big Pharma. The TGA is merely playing its part as handmaiden to biomedical industry. 


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