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Program Information
TUC Radio
How the US came to allow corporations to own life & wants to use the WTO to make this global
Part One: Andrew Kimbrell & Andres Barreda. Side Two: Vandana Shiva, Victoria Tauli Corpuz & Chaia Heller
 Maria Gilardin  Contact Contributor
May 18, 2002, 10:20 a.m.
The corporate enclosure of the entire living commons is the most disturbing aspect of genetic engineering. We are now imposing US patent rights on the rest of the world, to allow the patenting of plants, seeds, animals, even human cells and embryos.
Producer: Maria Gilardin
Uploaded by: Maria Gilardin
Patents, Biopiracy & Globalization
Vandana Shiva, Andrew Kimbrell, Victoria Corpuz, Andres Barreda, & Chaia Heller
Andrew Kimbrell is a public interest attorney and author. He calls mechanization and marketing of life, and the corporate enclosure of the entire living commons, the most disturbing aspects of genetic engineering. This is the ultimate takeover, he says.

The legal tool of ownership is patenting. We are now imposing US patent rights on the rest of the world, to allow the patenting of animals, even human cells and embryos. To do so ignores the most fundamental question, and treats life on the same terms as machines. What impact will that have on us?

Victoria Tauli Corpuz is an indigenous activist from the Philippines who shows how bio-piracy in the indigenous areas targets not only plants but also human beings.

DNA of peoples around the world was collected under the human genome diversity project, often without permission and sometimes even through health services and medial missions that deceived people about the purpose of samples taken from their persons.

Andres Barreda, a scholar and activist from Mexico says that in 1994, when NAFTA was signed, "the war began in my country." Indigenous peoples in Mexico now find that the key to any hope for autonomy is the struggle against biodevastation.

The indigenous peoples did not just organize a war; they aroused an entire nation. They came to an agreement to immediately suspend all bio-prospecting and the wave of privatization that is rolling over Mexico. Demand is also growing for changes in laws in order to gain land rights for indigenous peoples.

We need to exchange information and to collaborate on cross-border projects to determine what genetic material is being stolen, and how
it is being used.

Chaia Heller, a youth activist, asks: Is biotechnology actually a technology? She suggests that because it is more than just technique it is about power and democracy and has to be seen as part of a vast, international network that consists of governments, trade bodies, scientists, marketers, and advertisers. Biotechnology affects the whole world.

Without government regulation, we need to assert our right to decide about these matters. For more direct democracy, everybody has to make a serious moral inventory: life, culture, and imagination depend on keeping what remains of democracy (e.g., municipal and neighborhood assemblies, ward councils) and reclaiming other forms. Our demand should not be simply "GMO-free," but the right to live in a free world where GMOs are not possible. We need to revive our revolutionary nerve.

Vandana Shiva heads the Research Foundation for Science and Technology in New Delhi, India. She says that the GMO issue is about our bodies and our future. The first colonialism was about land. Now bodies and lives are being appropriated and exploited. The case of Percy Schmeiser shows so clearly that patents are a means of colonizing the world. When the court ordered Schmeiser to make payment to Monsanto, it declared that the polluter gets paid. In India, patents on life are considered a moral outrage. Life is not an area of capital accumulation.

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