GMO and IP: same story
“The question is as simple as this”, writes George Monbiot, in a terrific Guardian Op-Ed piece. “Do you want a few corporations to monopolise the global food supply? If the answer is yes, you should welcome the announcement that the government is expected to make today that the commercial planting of a genetically modified (GM) crop in Britain can go ahead. If the answer is no, you should regret it. The principal promotional effort of the genetic engineering industry is to distract us from this question.
GM technology permits companies to ensure that everything we eat is owned by them. They can patent the seeds and the processes that give rise to them. They can make sure that crops can’t be grown without their patented chemicals. They can prevent seeds from reproducing themselves. By buying up competing seed companies and closing them down, they can capture the food market, the biggest and most diverse market of all.”
The interesting thing about this piece is that it highlights what’s going also in Intellectual Property. We’re moving into an era when large companies want to own everything — including the human genome. And we don’t seem to have governments or electorates perceptive enough to realise what’s going on. Instead we have a lot of rhetoric about ‘consumer choice’, ‘property rights’, ‘theft’ and ‘free’ trade.