Much TRM has been used for generations and has been passed on inter-generationally, as indicated in the WHO definition mentioned above.29 However, TRM is not a static body of knowledge; it continues to evolve with the practices of the individuals/communities that hold and use it (Correa, 2000a, p. 242). TRM, like other bodies of knowledge, is built on incrementally by improvement on and additions to old knowledge.30 Thus, TRM consists of knowledge received from the past and handed down from generation to generation but also includes recent knowledge that may be the product of deliberate experimentation and observation. Thus, healers in traditional/indigenous communities do contribute to the pool of existing knowledge. Moreover, formal and informal research takes place within codified TRM systems. The Canadian Indigenous peoples organization, the Four Directions Council, has suggested that
“What is “traditional” about traditional knowledge is not its antiquity, but the way it is acquired and used. In other words, the social process of learning and sharing knowledge, which is unique to each indigenous culture, lies at the very heart of its “traditionality”. Much of this knowledge is actually quite new, but it has a social meaning, and legal character, entirely unlike the knowledge indigenous people acquire from settlers and industrialized societies”. 31
29 See footnote 1.
30 It should be noted that the word “innovations” is used in article 8 (j) the Convention on Biological Diversity, thereby indicating that not all traditional knowledge is ancient or non-contemporary.
31 Quoted by Dutfield, 2000, p. 3.