from CorbettReport Website
The oft-neglected legal minefield of intellectual property rights has seen a surge in public interest in recent months due to the storm of protest over proposed legislation and treaties related to online censorship.
One of the effects of such legislation
SOPA and PIPA and such international treaties as
ACTA is to have
drawn attention to the grave implications that intellectual property
arguments can have on the everyday lives of the average citizen.
In its decision, Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger ruled that:
With this ruling, the ability to patent living organisms, so long as
they had been genetically altered in some novel way, was established
in legal precedent.
Since then, adoption of
GM foods has proceeded
swiftly, especially in the US where the vast majority of soybeans,
corn and cotton have been genetically altered.
It was in the sleepy town of Bruno that a canola farmer, Percy Schmeiser, found that a variety of GM canola known as “Roundup Ready” had infected his fields, mixing with his non-GM crop.
Amazingly, Monsanto, the agrichemical company that owned the Roundup Ready patent, sued Schmeiser for infringing their patent.
After a years-long legal
battle against the multinational that threatened to bankrupt his
small farming operation, Schmeiser finally won an out-of-court
settlement with Monsanto that saw the company agree to pay for the
clean-up costs associated with the contamination of his field.
Sold a story of “magic seeds” that would produce immense yields, farmers around the country were driven into ruinous debt by a combination of high-priced seeds, high-priced pesticides, and crop failure.
Worst of all, the GM seeds had been engineered with so-called “terminator technology,” meaning that seeds from one harvest could not be re-planted the following year.
Instead, farmers were forced to buy seeds at the same
exorbitant prices from the biotech giants every year, insuring a
debt spiral that was impossible to escape. As a result, hundreds of
thousands of farmers have committed suicide in the Indian
countryside since the introduction of GM crops in 1997.
contrary, this is something that has been self-consciously designed
by the heads of the very corporations who now seek to reap the
benefit of this monopolization, and the monumental nature of their
achievement has been obscured behind bureaucratic institutions like
the WTO and innocuous sounding agreements like the Agreement on
Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
The country’s National Biodiversity Diversity
Authority has enabled the government to proceed with legal action
against the company (below video) for so-called biopiracy, or attempting to
develop a GM crop derived from local varieties of eggplant, without
the appropriate licenses.
Although resistance to the patenting of the world’s food supply
should be applauded in all its forms, what is needed is a
fundamental transformation in our understanding of life itself from
a patentable organism to the common property of all of the peoples
who have developed the seeds from which these novel GM crops are
To be sure, it will be a long and arduous uphill battle to bring
this issue to the attention of a public that seems to be but dimly
aware of what genetically modified foods are, let alone the legal
ramifications of the ability to patent life, but as the work of such
organizations as Navdanya continues to educate people about the
issues involved, the numbers of those opposed to the patenting of
the biosphere likewise increases.
The Ultimate Food Fight
from YouTube Website