"Biopiracy" Annotations

Molly Gambardella

25 June 2021


“Biopiracy”, Annotations


P. 2 TRIPs - Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (made by corporations, see P. 81)


P. 4 “Economic Espionage Act of 1996, which became law on September 17 and empowered intelligence agencies to investigate the ordinary activities of people worldwide.The act considers the intellectual property rights of US corporations as vital to national security.”


P. 5 biodiversity is being defined as nature - the cultural and intellectual contributions of non-western knowledge systems are being systematically erased.


P. 5 GATT (general agreement on tariffs and trade) treaty - patents on life forms, indigenous knowledge and by genetic engineering are grounded in processes that can be summarized and symbolized as the second coming of columbus.


P. 5 The struggle to conserve both cultural and biological diversity


P. 8 “Recognition of diverse traditions of creativity is an essential component of keeping diverse knowledge systems alive.”


P. 10 Profits and capital accumulation are the only ends of creativity; the social good is longer recognized -- IPR


P. 10 IPR or Intellectual property rights becomes another name for intellectual theft and biopiracy.


P. 11 Robert Sherwood quote - creativity as a resource, intellectual property protection tool which releases resources. (ew)


P. 11 The economic inequality between the affluent industrialized countries and the poor third world ones is a product of 500 years of colonialism and the continued maintenance and creation of mechanisms for draining wealth out of the third world. According to UNdevelopment program, while $50 billion flows from north to south in terms of aid, the south loses $500 billion annually in interest payments on debts and from the loss of fair prices for commodities due to unequal terms of trade -- western people blame lack of creativity which in turn is seen as lack in IPR protection (face palm)


P. 13 this negates the scientific creativity of those not spurred by the search for profits. It negates the creativity of traditional societies and the modern scientific community in which the free exchange of ideas is the very condition for creativity, not its antithesis.”


Oligopoly: An oligopoly is a market form wherein a market or industry is dominated by a small group of large sellers. Oligopolies can result from various forms of collusion that reduce market competition which then leads to higher prices for consumers and lower wages for the employees of oligopolies.


P. 14 Patents, tool for market control -- strongest form of IPR protection


P. 15 Martin Kenny: “...to see a thing that one produced turned into a product for sale by someone over whom one has no control can leave a person feeling violated. The labor of love is converted into a plain commodity -- the work now is an item to be exchanged on the basis of its market price. Money becomes the arbiter of a scientific development’s value.”


-thoughts -- can see how this affects artists and creativity within the “art market”


P. 15 “IPRs efficient mechanism for harvesting the products of social creativity. They are an inefficient mechanism for nurturing and nourishing the tree of knowledge.”


Beautiful powerful imagery -- roots of the tree of knowledge are being starved.


P. 16 “IPRs lead to the skewing of research to targets of greater commercial interest”


P.16-17 -- earthworms!!!!!! WTF


*P. 17 “What use is our expensive technology in a sea of ignorance?”


P. 17 commercially profitable vs socially necessary


**P. 17 “As a society facing ecological problems, we need epidemiology, ecology, and evolutionary and development biology. We need experts on particular taxonomic groups, such as microbes, insects, and plants, to respond to the crisis of biodiversity erosion. The moment we ignore the useful and the necessary, and concentrate only on the profitable, we are destroying the social conditions for the creation of intellectual property.” DAMN


P. 19 1971, Chakravarty, first patent on life (US)


P. 20 According to Andrew Kimbrell (US lawyer): “The Supreme Court’s Chakravarty decision has been extended to be continued, up the chain of life. The patenting of microbes has led inexorably to the patenting of plants, and then animals.”


“Biotechnological inventions” instead of biodiversity to appear less controversial


P. 21 “The argument that the bacteriums is Chakravarty’s handiwork and not nature’s wildly exaggerates human power and displays the same hubris and ignorance of biology that have had such devastating impact on the ecology of our planet.”


P. 22 “These shifting constructions of “natural” show that science, which claims the highest levels of objectivity, is actually very subjective and opportunistic in its approach to nature.”


P. 23 “Patenting living organisms encourages two forms of violence. First, life-forms are treated as if they are mere machines, thus denying their self-organizing capacity. Second, by allowing the patenting of future generations of plants and animals, the self-reproducing capacity of living organisms is denied.”


P. 24 Reductionist science linked with commercialization of science and resulted in the domination of women and non-western peoples”


P. 24 Reductionist science came to be by funding, rewards and recognition


P. 25 Reductionist biology promoted by August Weisman -- gene or DNA over entire human as an organism


P. 27 reductionist biology happened over long time and not by accident


P. 27 Rockefeller Foundation served as a principal patron of molecular biology from the 1930s to the 1950s. The term “molecular biology” was coined in 1938 by Warren Weaver, director of Rockefeller Foundation’s Natural Science Division. (gave about 25 million dollars for molecular biology, more than one-fourth total spending for the biological sciences outside of medicine).


P. 27 Nobel peace prize given out dozen years following 1953 (DNA structure) funded by Rockefeller Foundation


P. 28 New biology originally named psychobiology was erected on the bedrock of the physical sciences in order to rigorously explain and eventually control the fundamental mechanisms governing human behavior, placing a particularly strong emphasis on heredity. Hierarchy and inequality were thus “naturalized”


P. 30 reductionism has epistemological, ethical, ecological, and socioeconomic implications. - leads to a machine view of the world and its rich diversity of life forms - makes us forget living organisms organize themselves. Robs us of our capacity for the reverence of life - without that capacity, protection of diverse species on this planet is impossible.


P. 30-31 living systems


P. 31 that freedom for diverse species and ecosystems to self organize is the basis of ecology. Ecological stability derives from the ability of species and ecosystems to adapt, evolve and respond. In fact, the more degrees of freedom available to a system, the more a system can express its self-organization. -- External control reduces the degrees of freedom a system has, thereby reducing its capacity to adapt and evolve.


P. 31 Autopoietic (geared towards self renewal, refers to itself) vs allopoietic (such as a machine, refers to a function given from outside, such as the production of a specific output) system


**P. 31 self organizing systems grow from within, shaping themselves outward, externally organized mechanical systems do not grow, they are made, put together from the outside.


P. 31 The more complex a dynamic structure is, the more endogenously (Endogenous substances and processes are those that originate from within a system such as an organism, tissue, or cell. Endogenous substances and processes contrast with exogenous ones, such as drugs, which originate from outside of the organism.) it is driven. ...self organization is the essence of health and ecological stability for living systems.


When organisms are treated like machines:


****P. 32 When an organism or a system is mechanically manipulated to improve a one-dimensional function, including the increase in one-dimensional productivity, either the organisms’s immunity decreases, and it becomes vulnerable to disease and attach by other organisms, or the organism becomes dominant in an ecosystem and displaces other species, pushing them into extinction. Ecological problems arise from applying the engineering paradigm to life. This paradigm is being deepened through genetic engineering, which will have major ecological and ethical implications.


***P. 33 The issue of intrinsic worth is intimately related to the issue of self-organization, which is also, inturn, related to healing. … when a part is injured, some cells become undifferentiated in order to make new, specialized tissues. Thus, there is a self-directed capacity for restoration. The faculty of repair is in turn, related to resilience. When organisms are treated as machines, and manipulated without recognition of their ability to self-organize, their capacity to heal and repair breaks down, and they need increasing inputs and controls to be maintained.


P. 34 genetic engineering moves genes across species by using “vectors” usually mosaic recombination of natural genetic parasites from different sources, including viruses causing cancers and other diseases in animals and plants that are tagged with one or more antibiotic resistant “marker” genes. … vector-mediated horizontal gene transfer and recombination are found to be involved in generating new pandemic strains of bacterial pathogens.


P. 35 oilseed rape plant 1994 Denmark, spread genetically engineered herbicide tolerant gene to it which spread to a weedy natural relative -- making it nearly impossible to eliminate and now spreads over large parts of the world. Created a super weed, now creating genetically engineered pests, risk of creating “super pests”


P. 36 Monsanto’s Bollgard cotton - charged farmers $79 per hectare in addition to the seed price, made $51 million in one year -- ended up not working for the farmers & placed a federal law on the seeds since Monsanto “owns” them. -- didn’t own them when it created a hazard and didn’t work


P. 37 IPRs on crop varieties that are creating ecological havoc is an unjust system of total privatization of benefits and total socialization of costs. IPRs on crops prevent the development of ecologically sound and socially just practices. Further, they force an agricultural system on people that threatens the environment and human health.


P. 37 Legally it is the fair trade treaty, the Uruguay round of GATT, that is forcing all countries to have IPRs in agriculture.


P. 38 genetic engineering as a technique - sophisticated, but as a technology for using biodiversity sustainably to meet human needs, it is clumsy. Transgenic crops reduce biodiversity by displacing diverse crops. ...also introduce new allergies, super viruses, biological pollution


P. 39 seed banks, protect indigenous seed diversity, an alternative to engineering view of life. Through work to protect intellectual commons we have tried to build an alternative to the paradigm of knowledge and life itself as private property.


P. 40 Palestinian poem, The Seed Keepers


P. 43 its devaluation of the processes of regeneration are the cause of both the ecological crisis and the crisis of sustainability


P. 44 ancient patriarchy, seed and earth metaphor - active seed and passive earth


P. 44 people were separated from nature, and the creativity involved in processes of regeneration was denied. Creativity became the monopoly of men, who were considered to be engaged in production; women were engaged in mere reproduction or recreation, which, rather than being treated as renewable production, was looked upon as nonproductive.


P. 45 the land, the forests, the rivers, the oceans, and the atmosphere have all been colonized, eroded, and polluted. Capital now has to look for new colonies to invade and exploit for its further accumulation -- the interior spaces of the bodies of women, plants, and animals.


The invasion and takeover of the land as colonies was made possible through the technology of the gunboat; the invasion and takeover of the life of organisms as the new colonies is being made possible through the technology of genetic engineering.


Biotechnology, as the handmaiden of capital in the postindustrial era, makes it possible to colonize and control that which is autonomous, free, and self-regenerative. Through reductionist science, capital goes where it has never been before. The fragmentation of reductionism opens up areas for exploitation and invasion. ...the seed and women’s bodies as sites of regenerative power are, in the eyes of capitalist patriarchy, among the last colonies.


P. 46 while ancient patriarchy used the symbol of the active seed and the passive earth, capitalist patriarchy, through the new biotechnologies, reconstitutes the seed as passive, and located activity and creativity in the engineering mind.


Five hundred years ago, when land began to be colonized, the reconstitution of the earth from a living system into mere matter went hand in hand with the devaluation of the contributions of non-European culture and nature. Now, the reconstitution of the seed from a regenerative source of life into valueless raw material goes hand in hand with the devaluation of those who regenerate life through the seed - that is, the farmers and peasants of the Third World.


P. 46 sustainable cultures view earth as terra mater. Patriarchal construct of the passivity of he earth and the consequent creation of the colonial category of land as terra nullius served two purposes: denied existence and prior rights of original inhabitants, and it negated the regenerative capacity and life processes of the earth. … European men were thus able to describe their invasions as discoveries, their piracy and theft as trade, and their extermination and enslavement as a civilizing mission.


P. 46 terra nullius, lands empty of people, vacant, wasted and unused (non-European cultures seen on the same level as fauna or even wild dogs in Australia).


P. 47 rise of mechanical philosophy with emergence in scientific revolution was based on the destruction of concepts of self-regenerative, self-organizing nature, which sustained all life. … the nurturing earth image acted as a cultural constraint on the exploitation of nature. Values based on power (commercial capitalism)


Carolyn Merchant, “One does not readily slay a mother, dig her entrails, or mutilate her body”


P. 48 sustainable agriculture (soil is alive) vs green revolution (add chemicals to soil & based on the assumption that earth is inert), created soil diseases, desertification, micronutrient deficiencies


P. 48 the seed and earth mutually create conditions for each other’s regeneration and renewal. Technologies cannot provide a substitute for nature and cannot work outside of nature’s ecological processes without destroying the very basis of production, nor can markets provide the only measure of output and yield.


P. 49 nitrogen based fertilizers release nitrous oxide, one of the greenhouse gases causing global warming, into the atmosphere. Chemical fertilizers have thus contributed to the erosion of food security through the pollution of land, water, and the atmosphere.


P. 49 Processes like hybridization of seed robs the seed of its fertility and self-regenerative capabilities colonizing it through technical means and through property rights.


P. 50-51 shift from ecological processes of production through regeneration to technological processes of nonregenerative production that underlies the dispossession of farmers and the drastic reduction of biological diversity in agriculture. It is at the root of the creation of poverty and of non-sustainability in agriculture.


P. 51 possession of this technology, then, becomes the reason for ownership by corporations, and for the simultaneous dispossession and disenfranchisement of farmers.


Tervor Williams (former executive secretary of the international board for plant genetic resources), and others like him believe that the original seed has no value. Only after “considerable investment of time and money” does a seed become valuable.


Once again, all prior processes of creation are being denied and devalued by defining them as nature. Terra mater into Terra nullius


Indigenous varieties of plants are called landraces, evolved through both natural and human selection and produced and used by third world farmers worldwide are primitive cultivars.


P. 52 placing the contributions of corporate scientists over and above the intellectual contributions made by third world farmers over 10,000 years --contributions to conservation, breeding, domestication, and development of plant and animal genetic resources - is based on rank social discrimination.


P. 53 Hans Leenders, creepy quote about farmers not being able to keep seeds because corporations need the royaltys


P. 53 the farmers, who are the guardians of the germ plasm, have to be dispossessed to allow the new colonization to happen. -- HUGE impact on 3rd world agriculture


P.54 “It is argued that patent protection is essential for innovation, yet it is essential only for that innovation that garners profit for corporate business.”


P. 55 1985 Hibberd, landmark event for patenting seeds - “With this juridical framework now in place to allow seed industry to realize one of its longest held and most cherished goals: to force all farmers to buy seed every year instead of obtaining it through reproduction”.


P.55,56 Through intellectual property rights, an attempt is made to take away what belongs to nature, to farmers and to women and to term this invasion improvement and progress. Violence and plunder as instruments of wealth creation are essential to the colonization of nature and of our bodies through the new technologies. Those who are exploited become criminals, those who exploit require protection.


P.56 debt reversal, third world to usa


P. 58 Plant regeneration -> agriculture -> green revolution -> biotechnology


P. 59 “ medical specialists, falsely believing that they produce and create babies, force their knowledge on knowing mothers. They treat their own knowledge as infallible, and women’s knowledge as wild hysteria. And through their fragmented and invasive knowledge, they create a maternal-fetal conflict in which life is seen only in the fetus, and the mother is reduced to a potential criminal threatening her baby’s life.” ******* how my mom was treated in Hartford


Pro choice and pro life are both movements based on a patriarchal construction of women and reproduction. In that it was part of the transition in childbirth from women and midwives to mostly male medical practitioners.


Women's rights, linked with their regenerative capacities, have been replaced by those of doctors as producers and rich, infertile couples as consumers. Example, Mary Beth 1986 case


P. 60 Role of man as creator taken to extreme lengths, relaxin, hormone naturally found in women is being treated as an invention by three male scientists, Peter John Hud, Hugh David Nill and Geoffrey William Tregear. Creating a boundary - divides the thinking active male from the unthinking passive female and from nature.


P. 60, 61 Biotechnology carves out the boundary between nature and culture through intellectual property rights and defining womens work and farmers’ knowledge and work as nature. A natural resource akin to natural deposits ***


Production vs creation boundaries - political constructs.


P. 61 Production boundary excludes regenerative, renewable production cycles from the domain of production. Nat’l accounting systems, based on the assumption they created that if producers consume what they produce, they do not, in fact, produce at all because they fall outside of the production boundary. All women who produce for families, children and nature are thus treated as nonproductive and economically inactive.


P. 62 Creation boundary, takes contributions of women and third world peasants and tribespeople and views them as being engaged in unthinking, repetitive, biological processes. The separation of production from reproduction, the characterization of the former as economic and the latter as biological, are some of the underlying assumptions that are treated as natural even though they have been socially and politically constructed. ***************


Male artists have this assumption as being seen as “ex nihilo” - created from nothing

Nothing is formed from nothing.


The assumption that only industrial production is truly creative because it produces from nothing hides the ecological destruction that goes with it. This patriarchal creation boundary allows ecological destruction to be perceived as creation, and ecological regeneration as underlying the breakdown of ecological cycles and the crisis of sustainability. To sustain life means, above all, to regenerate life; but according to the patriarchal view, to regenerate is not to create, it is merely to repeat. -- successful artists/businesses within capitalism vs unsuccessful artists


Regeneration is not merely repetition. It involves diversity, while engineering produces uniformity. Regeneration in fact is how diversity is produced and renewed. While no industrial process takes place out of nothing, the creation myth of patriarchy is particularly unfounded in the case of biotechnologies, where life-forms are the raw material for industrial production.


P. 63 the source of patriarchal power over women and nature lies in separation and fragmentation. Nature is separated and subjugated (definition - bring under domination or control, especially by conquest.) to culture; mind is separated from and elevated above matter; female is separated from male, and identified with nature and matter. The domination over women and nature is one outcome; the disruption of cycles of regeneration is another. Disease and ecological destruction arise from this interruption of the cycles of renewal of life and health. The crises of health and ecology suggest that the assumption of man’s ability to totally engineer the world, including seeds and women’s bodies, is in question. Nature is not the essentialized, passive construct that patriarchy assumes it to be. Ecology forces us to recognize the disharmonies and harmonies in our interactions with nature. Understanding and sensing connections and relationships is the ecological imperative.


P. 63 Main contribution of the ecology movement has been the awareness that there is no separation between mind and body, human and nature. Nature consists of the relationships and connections that provide the very conditions for our life and health. This politics of connection and regeneration provides an alternative to the politics of separation and fragmentation that is causing ecological breakdown. It is a politics of solidarity with nature. This implies a radical transformation of nature and culture in such a manner that they are mutually permeating, not separate and oppositional.


P. 65-66 “tropics are the cradle of the planet’s biological diversity with a multiplicity of ecosystems beyond compare. A majority of Third World countries are located in the tropics and, thus, endowed with this wealth of biological diversity, which is being rapidly destroyed

  1. Habitat destruction due to internationally financed megaprojects--such as the building of dams, highways, mines, and aquaculture--in areas rich in biological diversity. Blue Revolution is an example of how coastal areas rich in marine diversity and inland areas rich in agricultural diversity are being destroyed through intensive shrimp farming.

  2. The technological and economic push to replace diversity with homogeneity in forestry, agriculture, fishery, and animal husbandry. The Green Revolution is an example of deliberate replacement of biological diversity with biological uniformity and monocultures.”


P. 66 biodiversity erosion -> chain reaction, interrelated through food webs and chains. Not just a crisis of disappearing species, which serve as industrial raw material and potential for spinning dollars for corporate enterprises. It is more basically a crisis that threatens the life-support systems and livelihoods of millions of people in Third World Countries


P. 66 “references made to global diversity and global genetic resources, biodiversity - unlike the atmosphere or the oceans -is not a global commons in the ecological sense. Biodiversity exists in specific countries and is used by specific communities. It’s global only in its emerging role as raw material for global corporations.”


P. 67 John Todd, visionary biologist, has stated, biodiversity carries the intelligence of three and a half billion years of experimentation by life-forms. Human production is viewed as coproduction and cocreativity with nature. IPR regimes in contrast, are based on the denial of creativity in nature. Yet, they usurp the creativity of emerging indigenous knowledge and the intellectual commons. Further, since IPRsare more a protection of capital investment than a recognition of creativity per se, there is a tendency for ownership of knowledge, and the processes emerging from it, to move towards areas of capital concentration and away from poor people without capital. Knowledge and resources are, therefore, systematically alienated from the original custodians and donors, becoming the monopoly of the transnational corporations. P. 68 ayurvedic knowledge, people are knowing subjects vs western medicine and pharmaceutical corporations pep[le are not knowing subjects


Non-western medical systems - do not exercise a commercial monopoly through their practice. They do not use their knowledge to amass limitless private profit and wealth. Gyan daan (in India) - the gifting of knowledge


P. 69 pp on knowledge, historical tendency


P. 70, neem as an example of indigenous knowledge being stolen through IPRs. “squeezing bucks out of the neem ought to be relatively easy” How WR Grace justified copying what people in India had been doing for 2,000 years:


“Although traditional knowledge inspired the research and development that led to these patented compositions and processes, they were considered sufficiently novel and different from the original product of nature and the traditional method of use to be patentable.”


P. 71 meta knowledge ( knowledge of principles, public domain) - the tree has biopesticidal properties vs microknowledge (knowledge involved with tinkering with technical processes. By doing this IPRs are:

  1. Claiming nature’s creativity and the creativity of other cultures as its own.

  2. In the case of neem, it leads to the false claim that biopesticide property was created by the patentee.

  3. Petty tinkering becomes the source of creativity (for IPR) rather than acknowledging that specific species are the source of creation or specific properties and characteristics, and that communities are the source of the knowledge that allows that “property” to be utilized



How value and IPRs are related: if all value is seen as being associated with capital, tinkering becomes necessary to add value. Simultaneously value, is being taken away from the source (biological resources as well as indigenous knowledge) and reduced to raw material.


Value is depending on the source - not how it is processed. The same tinkering done to the neem tree, applied to another species would not produce a pesticide.


P. 72 When indigenous systems of knowledge and production interact with dominant systems of knowledge and production, it is important to anticipate whether the future options of the indigenous system of the dominant system will grow. Whose knowledge and values will shape the future options of diverse communities?

*visual metaphor P. 72 Bioprospecting, exploration of commercially valuable genetic and biochemical resources - metaphor borrowed from the prospecting for oil and gold (the world resources institute)


Metaphor suggests that prior to “prospecting”, the resource lies buried, unknown, unused, and without value. -- connection to Ariella’s book, IPR treating biodiversity as colonists treated the land inhabited by indigenous life and animals to be terra nullius aka nobody's land.


P. 73 This leads to alternative economic systems disappearing, and the western prospector is projected as the only source for medical and agricultural uses of biodiversity. The disappearance of alternatives , monopolies in the form of IPRs appear natural.


P. 73 Susan Laird quote (bioprospecting proponent) P. 74 health sector & agricultural - bioprospecting markets for patent commodities


P.74 The use of traditional knowledge increases the efficiency of pinpointing plants’ medicinal uses by more than 400%

P. 74 ex: 1992, Eli Lily paid Shaman Pharmaceuticals (major bioprospecting company), $4 million for exclusive worldwide marketing rights for all antifungal drugs drawn from the knowledge of native healers. The Shaman Pharmaceutical com[ny will return a portion to people and gov’ts in the countries where Shaman works, although the amount isn’t disclosed.

P. 75 Ex. 1991, agreement between Merck Pharmaceuticals and INBio, the national biodiversity institute of Costa Rica. Merck agreed to pay 1 million for the rights to keep and analyze plant samples gathered by INBio employees in Costa Rican national forests. This multinational corporation has $4 billion in revenue a year and exchanged only $1million to a small conservation organization for unconditional rights for prospecting. The agreement is not with the people living in or near these national forests, they had no say in this or guaranteed any benefits, agreement not with the government either, it is an agreement between a transnational corporation and a conservation group developed at the initiative of leading US conservation biologist, Dan Janzen.

P. 76 those who are selling bioprospecting rights never had the rights to biodiversity in the first place, and those whose rights are being sold and alienated through the transaction have not been consulted or given a chance to participate.


P. 76 in other cases, indigenous communities are being asked to patent their knowledge in collaboration with Western corporations. The capital, however, comes from Western institutions and the rights are immediately transferred to powerful commercial interests, who control capital and the market. *****P. 77 Patenting does not protect indigenous knowledge. Protection of knowledge implies the continued availability and access to it by future generations in their everyday practices of health care and agriculture. If the economic organization that emerges on the basis of patents displaces the indigenous lifestyles and economic systems, indigenous knowledge is not being protected as a living heritage. If we recognize that the dominant economics system is at the root of the ecological crisis because it has failed to address the ecological value of natural resources, expanding the same economic system will not protect indigenous knowledge or biodiversity.


THIS !!!!



Entire page, museum of care


P. 78 in addition, the perverse logic of financing biodiversity conservation by a small percentage of profits generated by biodiversity destruction amounts to licensing destruction, and reduces conservation to an exhibit, not a basis for living and producing.


National Park system? “Wild” zoos, not connected to each other, separated by human highways. Only available by car or plane.


P. 79 The issues of equity, fairness and compensation need to be assessed in a systemic way, both at the level of taking indigenous knowledge and at the level of later pushing it out through aggressive marketing of industrialized products in medicine and agriculture. Key questions: Is it right to displace the sources of alternative production and organization? Can such destruction be fully compensated? Can the planet. And the diverse communities that inhabit it, afford to have biodiversity and alternative lifestyles swallowed up as raw material for a centralized, global corporate culture that can only produce cultural and biological uniformity?


*p. 79, the protection and recovery of the biodiversity commons is, first and foremost, a political and social movement that recognizes the creativity intrinsic to the diversity of life-forms. It calls for common property regimes in the ownership and utilization of biodiversity. Further, it works toward an intellectual commons -- a public domain in which knowledge of biodiversity's utility is not commodified.


P. 80 first public demonstration of recovery of biodiversity, Indian farmers august 15, 1993, declared their knowledge is protected by Samuhik Gyan Sanad (collective intellectual rights). According to the farmers, any company using local knowledge or local resources without the permission of local communities is engaging in intellectual piracy, as in the case of the patents on neem.


Later developed by Third World Network (protest)


Sui generis - unique


CIRs - collective intellectual property rights


P. 81 Biodemocracy, the belief that all knowledge and production systems using biological organisms have equal validity. TRIPs agreements in contrast are based on the concept of bioimperialism, the belief that only the knowledge and production of western corporations need protection.


P. 81 TRIPS (if unchallenged) become the instrument for displacing and dispensing with the knowledge, resources, and rights of Third World peoples, especially those who depend on biodiversity for their livelihoods, and who are the original owners and innovators in the utilization of biodiversity.


Origin of TRIPs (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) agreement:

Conceived and shaped by three organizations:

  1. The Intellectual Property Committee (IPC) - coalition of 12 major US corporations: Bristol Meyers, DuPont, General Electric, General Motors, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Monsanto, Pfizer, Rockwell, and Warner.

  2. Keidanren (federation of economic organizations in Japan)

  3. The Union of Industrial and Employees Confederations (UNICE): official spokesperson for European business and industry.


The transnational corporations have a vested interest in the TRIPs agreement. For example, Pfizer, Bristol Meyers, and Merck already have patents on Third World biomaterials collected without payment of royalties. Together, these groups worked closely to introduce intellectual property protection into GATT.


P. 82 ((sourced) quote from James Enyart of Monsanto) “...the industries and traders of world commerce have played simultaneously the role of patients, the diagnosticians and the prescribing physicians.” (note chapter 4, #11)


P.82 prior to the Uruguay round of GATT 1993, IPRs were not covered. Each country had its own national IPR laws to suit its ethical and socioeconomic conditions. The major thrust for internationalizing IPR laws was given by the transnational corporations (TNCs)...They have used GATT to protect what they define as their “rights” as owners of intellectual property. P. 82 1998 industry paper, coauthored by IPC, Keidanren, and UNICE: “Because national intellectual property systems differ, intellectual property right owners spend a disproportionate amount of time and resources to acquire and defend rights. These owners alo find that the exercise of intellectual property rights is encumbered by laws and regulations limiting market access of the ability to repatriate profits.”


There are other quotes, all from the 1998 industry paper that are all undesirable: Exclusive marketing rights, claiming protection of the public is a form of discrimination on them and the ability to patent all life.


P. 87 diversity is the key to sustainability. It is the basis of mutuality and reciprocity -- “the law of return” based on the recognition of the right of all species to happiness and freedom from suffering. Yet the law of return based on freedom and diversity is being replaced by the logic of return on investments.


Genetic engineering, even while preying on the world’s biological diversity, threatens to aggravate the ecological crisis through the expansion of monocultures and monopolies.


P. 88 the most significant ecological impacts of TRIPs are related to changes in the ecology of species interactions that will be brought about as a result of commercial releases of patented and genetically engineered organisms (GEOs). P. 88 TRIPs also affects biodiversity rights, which, inturn, lead to changes in the sociocultural context of conservation. Some of these impacts are:

  1. The spread of monocultures as corporations with IPRs attempt to maximize returns on investments by increasing market shares.


P. 89 Corporations that obtain IPRs for plants or animals need to maximize their return on investment, which, in turn, creates pressure to maximize their market share. The same variety of crop or livestock is, therefore, spread worldwide, leading to the displacement of hundreds of local varieties of crops and breeds of livestock. For example, the blight of 1970-71. The Unisted States experienced a corn blight epidemic, which laid waste to 15 percent of the nation’s crop, because of genetic uniformity. Eighty percent of the hybrid corn in the US in 1970 was derived from a single, sterile male line and contained T. cytoplasm, which made the plants vulnerable to the corn blight fungus, H. maydis. ...plant breeders and seed companies used T. cytoplasm only because it fostered quick and profitable production of high-yielding, hybrid corn seed.


P. 90 spread of monocultures has been justified on grounds of increased productivity...these terms are not neutral, however; they are contextual and value-laden. Improving tree species means one thing for a paper corporation, which needs pulping wood, and another for a peasant, who needs fodder and green manure. Thus Cargill,the largest grain trader and fourth largest seed corporation has demanded IPRs to protect its investment, claiming that this will benefit the farmers.


Example of farmers in Karnataka had opposite experiences with Sunflower seeds from Cargill. Higher cost of seeds and lower output in some cases. 1993, cost of production was Rs 3,230 per acre and their income was Rs. 3,600 per acre vs with native seeds it was Rs. 300 for production and Rs. 3,200 per acre.


P. 91 patent protection as guaranteed under TRIPs will encourage pesticides. ...Their immediate strategy is to increase the use of pesticides and herbicides by developing pesticide and herbicide tolerant crop varieties. 27 corporations are working on virtually all the major food crops to develop herbicide resistance. (can’t find a 2021 number of corporations)


P. 91 Herbicide and pesticide resistance will also increase the integration of seeds and chemicals, and hence, the control of agriculture by multinational corporations. A number of major agrochemical companies are developing plants with resistance to their own brand of herbicide. For example, soya beans have been made resistant to Ciba-Geigy’s Atrazine herbicide, thus increasing annual sales by $120 million.


New forms of biological pollution:


P. 92 new forms of biological pollution: intimate relationship between weeds and crops, especially in the tropics, where weedy and cultivated varieties have genetically interacted for centuries and hybridize freely to produce new varieties.


SELF CONTROLLED ORGANISMS!


P. 93 hazards of gene transfer to wild relatives are higher in the Third World, as these regions are home to most of the world’s biodiversity.


P. 93 Biological pollution can also occur when non genetically engineered species reintroduced into ecosystems. Ex: 1970, blue tilapia was introduced in Lake Effie in Florida, it constituted less than 1% of the total weight of fish in the lake. In 4 years, the blue tilapia had dominated other species and accounted for 90% of the total biomass/weight.


P. 93/4 Another case in 1950s, the british introduced Nile perch into Lake victoria in east Africa to increase fish production. The ingidenous species were small and diverse including some 400 species of haplochromines, weighing about 1 pound each, but made up 80% of fish. The Nile perch is a carnivorous fish that can grow to six feet in length and weigh 150 pounds. During the next 20 years nothing happened, In the early 1980s Nile perch took over Lake Victoria, by 1985 nile perch made up about 60% of the catch vs 1% in 1980. Haplochromines, the native fish, now account for les than 1% of the fish biomass in Lake Victoria -- half of the original 400 species of haplochromines in the lake are extinct. More recently (1997) there has been a decline of Nile perch catch, those that are caught many have juvenile Nile perch in their stomachs. When species start to feed on their own offspring, it is a sign of ecological instability and a resulting break in the food chain.


P. 94 One final example is the introduction of opossum shrimp to improve production of kokanee salmon in Manitoba’s Flathead Lake. It had the reverse effect, leading to a decline in kokanee salmon. The opossum shrimp turned out to be a voracious predator of the zooplankton, an important source of food for the salmon. The spawning of salmon declined from 118,000 to 26,000 in 1986 to 330 in 1987, to 50 in 1989. The catch declined from above 100,000 in 1985 to 0 in 1988 and 1989.


P.95 GEOs in the short term exhibit little environmental impact...yet those that do pose serious threats of biological pollution, especially over the long term.


P.95 this compassion is the basis of ancient religions such as buddhism, jainism, and hinduism, as well as new movements, such as the protests against live calf exports and hunting in the UK. Ancient religions and new movements both reinforce the belief in the intrinsic value of species. (when the intrinsic value of species is replaced by the instrumental value built into IPR claims, the ethical basis for biodivirsity conservation and compassion for other species is undermind.)


P. 95 article 2 of TRIPs allows for the exclusion of patents on life on ethical and ecological grounds. Most groups concerned with these ethical issues, however, do not even know that trade treaties could have implications for their fundamental ethical principles. P. 96 Ron James, spokesperson for the biotechnology industry and the “maker” of Tracy (GMO sheep), is vociferous in asserting that patents are not a moral issue because they do not confer a right to do something. They are ethically neutral; they merely exclude others from using innovation. This ethical evasion, however, does not address the fact that IPRs are claims to intellectual property, and patents give exclusive rights to patent holders to make products based on these claims. In essence, patents are ownership claims on the basis of making something novel.


P. 96 biodiversity conservation depends on the rights of local communities to enjoy the fruits of their efforts. Alienation of these rights rapidly leads to the erosion of biodiversity. IPRs in the area of biodiversity and life-forms are not merely a creation of new rights, they also involve a rewriting of the traditional rights that enabled local communities to be the keepers of biodiversity, with a stake in its replenishment and utilization. IPRs in seeds, plant material, and indigenous knowledge systems alienate the rights of local communities and undermine the stake they have in the protection of biodiversity.


Example: village forests were enclosed by the British in colonial India, the local people were denied the rights to first resources. Became a license for massive deforestation...G.B. Pant observation on pg 97


P.98 the alienation of local rights was the basis of the Forest Satyagraha of the 1930s, which erupted across the country and in the Himalayas, in Central India, and in the western Ghats. M.K. Gandhi developed satyagraha (“struggle for truth”) as a form of peaceful non cooperation with unjust laws and regimes.


P. 98 the alienation of local rights has also been identified as the primary reason for biodiversity erosion in Ethiopia, according to the National Conservation Strategy (quote on page 99)


P. 99 Agricultural biodiversity has been conserved only when farmers have total control over their seeds. Monopoly rights regimes for seeds, either in the form of breeders’ rights or patents, will have the same impact on in situ conservation of plant genetic resources as the alienation of rights of local communities has had on the erosion of tree cover and grasslands in Ethiopia, India, and other biodiversity-rich regions.


P. 101 In this time of “ethnic cleansing” as monocultures spread throughout society and nature, making peace with diversity is fast becoming a survival imperative.


Diversity has been threatened whenever it has been seen as an obstacle. Violence and war are rooted in treating diversity as a threat, a perversion, a source of disorder. Globalization transforms diversity into a disease and deficiency because it cannot be brought under centralized control.


P. 101 Homogenization and monocultures introduce violence at many levels. Monocultures are always associated with political violence -- the use of coercion, control and centralization. Without centralized control and coercive force, this world filled with the richness of diversity cannot be transformed into homogeneous structures, and the monocultures cannot be maintained.


P. 102 Self-organized and decentralized communities and ecosystems give rise to diversity. Globalization gives rise to coercively controlled monocultures.


P. 102 monocultures are also associated with ecological violence -- a declaration of war against nature’s diverse species. Monocultures are unsustainable, vulnerable to ecological breakdown. P. 102 Example: the Green Revolution replaced thousands of local rice varieties with the uniform varieties of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). IR-8, released in 1966, was hit in 1968-1969 by bacterial blight and timgro. But, as a monoculture, it was vulnerable to attack by two new viruses, “ragged stunt” and “wilted stunt”


The miracle varieties displaced the diversity of traditionally grown crops, and through the erosion of diversity, the new seeds became a mechanism for introducing and fostering pests. Indigenous varieties are resistant to local pests and diseases. Even if certain diseases occur, some of the strains may be susceptible, but others will have the resistance to survive.


P. 102-103 What happens in nature also happens in society. When homogenization is imposed on diverse social systems through global integration, region after region starts to disintegrate. The violence inherent to centralized global integration, in turn, breeds violence among its victims. As conditions of everyday life become increasingly controlled by outside forces and systems of local governance decay, people cling to their diverse identities as a source of security in a period of insecurity. Tragically, when the source of their insecurity is so remote that it cannot be identified, diverse peoples who have lived peacefully together start to look at each other with fear. Markings of diversity become cracks of fragmentation; diversity then becomes the justification for violence and war, as we have seen in Lebanon, India, Sri Lanka, Yugoslavia, Sudan, Los Angeles, Germany, Italy and France.


P. 103, At the political and cultural level, it is this freedom to self-organize that Gandhi saw as the basis of interaction between different societies and cultures. “I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about as freely as possible, but I refuse to be blown off my feet by any,” said Gandhi.


P. 103 Globalization is not the cross-cultural interaction of diverse societie;...it is the predation of one class, one race, and often one gender of a single species on all of the others. The “global” in the dominant discourse is the political space in which the dominant local seeks global control, freeing itself of responsibility for the limits arising from the imperatives of ecological sustainability and social justice. In this sense. The “global” does not represent a universal human interest; it represents a particular local and parochial interest and culture that has been globalized through its reach and control, its irresponsibility and lack of reciprocity.


P. 103-104 Globalization has occurred in three waves:


The first wave was the colonization of America, Africa, Asia and Austrailia by European powers over 1,500 years.


The second imposed a Western idea of “development” during the postcolonial era of the past five decades. (now almost eight decades)


The third wave of globalization, unleashed approximately five years ago (now almost 30 years ago), is known as the era of “free trade”. The impact of each wave is cumulative, even as it creates discontinuity in the dominant metaphors and actors. And each time a global order has tried to wipe out diversity and impose homogeneity, disorder and disintegration have been induced, not removed.


P.104 Globalization I: Colonialism

P. 104 When Europe first colonized the diverse lands and cultures of the world, it also colonized nature. The transformation of the perception of nature during the industrial and scientific revolutions illustrates how “nature” was transformed in the European mind from a self-organizing, living system to a mere raw material for human exploitation, needing management and control.


P. 104 “resource” originally implied life. Its root is the Latin resurgere, or “to rise again.” In other words, resource meant self-regeneration. The use of the term “resource” for nature also implies a relationship of reciprocity between nature and humans. “With the rise of industrialism and the colonialism, a shift in meaning took place. “Natural resources: became inputs for industrial commodity production and colonial trade. Nature was transformed into dead and manipulable matter. Its capacity to renew and grow had been denied.


And this violence against nature, in turn, translated into violence in society.”


P. 105 “Anything not fully managed or controlled by European men was seen as a threat. This included nature, non-western societies, and women. What was self-organized was considered wild, out of control, and uncivilized.”


Most non western cultures have regarded the wild as sacred, viewing its diversity as a source of inspiration for democracy and freedom.


P. 105 Poet, Rabinsrandath Tagore, India’s national poet - forests


P. 105 whenever Europeans “discovered” the native peoples of America, Africa, or Asia, they identified them as savages in need of redemption by a superior race. Even slavery was justified on these grounds. To carry Africans into slavery was seen as an act of benevolence, transporting them from the “endless night of savage barbarism” into the embrace of a “superios civilization”


P. 105 Robert Boyle, famous scientist who also governed New England Company in 1760s saw the rise of mechanical philosophy as an instrument of power not just over nature, but also over the original inhabitants of America. He explicitly declared his intention of ridding the New England Indians of their absurd notions about the workings of nature. “Empire of man” vs “earth family”


P. 106 diversity as a threat, had to be wiped out of a worldview where European men were the measure of being human and having rights. As A.W. Crosby observes: “Again and again, during the centuries of European imperialism, the Christian view that all men are brothers was to lead to persecution of non-Europeans -- he who is my brother sins to the extent that he is unlike me.”


P. 106 denying other cultures their rights on the basis of their difference from European culture was convenient for takingaway their resources and wealth. The church authorized European monarchs to attack, conquer, and subdue nonbeleivers, to capture their goods and their territories, and to transfer their lands and properties. Five hundred years ago, Columbus carried this worldview to the New World. And millions of people and thousands of other living species lost their right to exist under the first wave of globalization.


P. 107 Globalization II: Development


P. 107 war against divirsity did not end with colonialism. The definition of entire nations of people as incomplete and defective Europeans was reincarnated in the “development” ideology, which predicated their salvation on generous assistance and advice from the World Bank, the international Monetary Fund (IMF) and other financial institutions, and multinational corporations.


Development is aa beautiful word, suggesting evolution from within. … Insted of contributing to the maintenance of diversity, development has created (imposed) homogeneity and uniformity.


Green revolution - example of “development” paradigm: it wiped out thousands of crops and crop varieties, substituting them with monocultures of rice, wheat, and maize across the Third World. … rural development in general, and the Green Revolution in particular, were prescribed as means for peace by politically stabilizing rural areas and preventing areas outside of China from falling under the influence of the Red Revolution. After 2 decades, however, the invisible ecological, political, and cultural costs of the Green revolution became apparent.


P. 108 The green revolution was based on the assumption that technology is a superior substitute for nature, and hence, a means of producing growth unconstrained by nature’s limits. Conceptually and empirically, viewing nature as a source of scarcity and technology as a source of abundance leads to technologies that create new scarcities in nature through ecological destruction. Green Revolution practices, for example, reduced the availability of fertile land and the genetic diversity of crops, thereby creating scarcity.


The GR shift from cropping systems based on diversity and internal inputs to ones based on uniformity and external inputs did not merely cange the ecological processes of agricultur. It also changed the structure of social and policial relationships, from those based on mutual (though asymmetric) obligations -- within the village--to relations between individual cultivators and theri banks, seed and fertilizer agencies, food procurement agencies, and electricity and irrigation organizers. Atomized and fragmented, cultivators relating directly to the state and the market generated an erosion of cultural norm and practices. Further, since the externally supplied inputs were scarce, it set up conflict and competition between classes and between regions, and sowed the seeds of violence and conflict.


P. 109 Examples: 1984 2 Sikh extremests assassinated Indira Ganghi, two thousand Sikhs were massacred in Delhi as a backlash. In 1986, 598 people were killed in Punjab, one year later, the number was 1,544. In in 1988, number rose to 3,000.


P. 110 The shift from Sikh farmers demanding their rights to the demand for a separate Sikh state comes from the collapse of horizontally organized, diverse communities into atomized individuals linked vertically to state power through electoral politics.


***p. 110 the homogenization processes of development do not fully wipe away differences. Differences persist -- not in the integrating context of plurality, but in the fragmenting context of homogenization. Positive pluralities give way to negative dualities, in competition with each other, contesting for the scarce resources that define economic and political power. Diversity is mutated into duality, into the experience of exclusion. The intolerance of diversity becomes a new social disease, leaving communities vulnerable to breakdown and violence, decay and destruction. The intolerance of diversity and the persistence of cultural differences sets one community against another in a context created by a homogenizing state, carrying out a homogenizing project of development. Difference, instead of leading to the richness of diversity, becomes the basis for division and an ideology of separation.


P. 111 Globalization III: “Free Trade”


P. 111 “free trade” is the ruling metaphor for globalization in our times. Cold war era -> era of Trade wars


P.111 among the exemplars of violence in the free trade era is the U.S. Trade Act, especially the Super and Special 301 clauses that allow the United States to take unilateral action against any country that does not open up its market to U.S. corporations. Super 301 forces freedom for investment; Speical 301 forces freedom for monopoly control of markets through intellectual property rights protection. Free trade is in fact, an asymmetric arrangement that combines liveraliation and protectionism for Western interests.


Third World countries had resisted the expansion of GATT into new areas, like services, investments, and intellectual property rights. By merely affixing “trade related” to issues that are decided domestically, GATT, through the World Trade Organization, will not merely regulate international trade, but, in essence, will determine domestic policy.


P. 111-112, In a speech, Fernando Jaramillo, Chair of the Group 77 and Columbia’s permanent representative to the United Nations said, “The Uruguay Round is proof again the developing world continues to be sidelined and rejected when it comes to defining areas of vital importance to their survival.” Continues to talk about Bretton Woods -> IMF


P.113 Free trade is not free; it protects the economic interests of the powerful transnational corporations, which already control 70 percent of the world’s trade and for whom international trade is imperative. (in 1990s) Transnational corporate freedom is based on the destruction of citizens’ freedom everywhere, and the little remnants of independence that the Thrid World had after the last two waves of colonization. In essence, GATT cripples the democratic institutions of individual countries - local councils, regional governments, and parliaments - leaving them unable to carry out the will of their citizens.


P. 113 while GATT might increase the volume of internationally traded goods and services, it will also increase unemployment and generate scarcity or those excluded from the global economy. The Indian commerce minister admitted in 1994 that unemployment in India will increase dramatically as a result of GATT. In Germany, the unemployment rate is expected to go up from 7.4 to 11.3 percent. France is moving from 9.5 to 12.1 percent, Britain from 9.7 to 10.4 percent. The top 1,000 British companies shed 1.5 million jobs in one year. According to Jeremy Rifkin in his book The End of Work, in the United States, 90 million jobs out of a total of 120 million are vulnerable to displacement by the restructuring of production. Wall Street Jounral article projets that 1.5 to 2.5 million American jobs could be lost each year for the foreseeable future. P. 114 countries are also reducing security benefits for workers. France announced a pension freeze; Germany reduced unemployment benefits. A leaked U.K. government document suggests plans to deregulate worker health and safety regulations. These range from ending the requirement for employers to provide toilet paper and soap at work to partial ending of controls on industrial hazards.


Instead of protecting workers’ rights domestically, and instead of ending the structural adjustment policies of the World Bank and lower Third World wages, the industrialized countries now argue that low wages in the Third World lead to “social dumping” in international trade and that trade sanctions are necessary to protect rich countries.


The “producer retirement” programs in the agriculture treaty are basically a displacement policy for farmers. In addition, monopoly control of seeds and plant varieties further add to the displacement pressures on the small farmers of the Third World who are the original breeders and custodians of plant genetic resources.


In response to the violence of free trade, its victims will react. For example, January 1, 1994 revolt of the Zapatistas in the Chiapas region of Mexico in the year that coincided with the beginning of the North American Free Trade Agreement, cost 107 lives.


P. 114-115 The structural adjustment programs of the IMF and World Bank, which tried to establish free trade in the pre-GATT era, indicate te three levels of violence created by the third wave of globalization.


First, there is the violence of the structural adjustment programs themselves, which rob people of food, health care, and education.


When people’s very survival is threatened, they protest to protect their rights. These protests, in turn, face repression from regimes committed to the structural adjustment conditionalities of the World Bank and IMF. A peruvian economist has estimated that in the several outbreaks of protest against structural adjustment programs, nearly 3,000 people have died, 7,000 have been wounded, and 15,000 have been arrested.


Finally, the economic and political vulnerability created by robbing people of their self-organizing, self-governing, and self-provisioning capacieies also creates conditions for engineered violence, in which vested interests organize vulnerable groups along ethnic and religious lines to declare war on each other. ***No continent is free of such civil wars, engineered along the fractures of racial, religious, or ethnic differences.*** The end of the Cold War has, in fact, seen war introduced on a global scale in civil society. Diversity has been transformed into a problem in a globalizing and homogenizing world.


P. 115 -116 Examples: Somalia and Rwanda - vivid illustrations of the manifold violence of globalization: Somalia had a pastoral economy based on exchange between nomadic herdsmen and small peasants; it remained virtually self-sufficient in terms of food. Livestock made up 80% of Somalia’s export earnings until 1983.


The IMF-World Bank adjustment programs in the 1980s destroyed Somalia’s economic and social fabric. (had been interpreted as a residue of “tribalism” from vast majority of power). Devaluation and liberalization of imports led to an erosion of domestic agricultural production. Food aid increased 15-fold between the mid-70s and mid-80s, leading to the displacement of farmers. Privitization of veterinary services and water resources led to a collapse of the livestock sector. P. 116 Michel Chossudovsky, “Global Poverty”: “The IMF-World Bank program has led the Somali economy into a vicous circle: the decimation of the herds pushed the nomadic pastoralists into starvation which in turn backlashed on grain producers who sold or bartered their grain for cattle. The entire social fabric of the pastoralist economy was undone. The collapse in foreign exchange earnings from declining cattle exports and remittances backlasehd on the balance of payments and the state’s public finances leading to the breakdown of the government’s economic and social program.”


P. 116 The Rwandan genocide had similar links to the globalization processes of structural adjustment. In 1989, the International Coffee Agreement reached a deadlock, and worldwide coffee prices plunged by more than 50 percent. Rwanda’s export earnings from coffee declined by 50 percent between 1987 and 1991. Chossudovsky explains:

“The crisis of the coffee economy backlashed on the production of cassava, beans and sorghum. The system of savings and loan cooperatives which provided credit to small farmers has also disintegrated. Moreover, with the liberalization of trade and the deregulation of grain markets as recommended by the Bretton Woods Institutions, heavily subsidized cheap food imports and food aid from the rich countries were entering Rwanda with the effect of destablizing local markets.”



P. 119 “the cultivation of diversity has to be a conscious and creative act, intellectually and in practice. It demands more than tolerance of diversity...Divirsity is intimately linked to the possibility of self-organization. Decentralization and local democratic control are political collaries of the cultivation of diversity. Peace is also derived from conditions in which diverse species and communities have the freedom to self-organize and evolve according to their needs, structures and priorities.


P.120 the cultivation of diversity involved reclaiming the right to self-organize for those coerced into living by imposed measures. For the dominant groups of nations and humans, who impose their priorities and patterns on the living diversity of peoples and other species, the cultivation of diversity involves seeing the capacity and intrinsic value of the “other” - other cultures and species. ***It involves giving up the will to control, an imperative rooted in the fear of that which is free, a fear that gives rise to violence. The cultivation of diversity is, therefore, a nonviolent response to the violence of globalization, homogenization, and monocultures.


Biodiversity, two conflicting paradigms: First paradigm is held by local communities, whose survival and sustenance is linked to the utilization and conservation of biodiversity. The second is held by commercial interests, whose profits are linked to utilizing global biodiversity as inputs for large-scale, homogenous, centralized, and global production systems. For local indigenous communities, conserving biodiversity means conserving their rights to their resources, knowledge, and production systems. For commercial interests, such as pharmaceutical and agricultural biotechnology companies, biodivirsity in itself has no value; it is merely raw material.



p. 122 festival in India, Akti, seed is treated as common property not private. IPRs are based on a knowledge monoculture that excludes diverse knowledge traditions. IPRs colonize the intellectual heritage of non-Western cultures as well as their natural heritage, which is concentrated in what have become Third World countries over five centuries of unilaterally determined exchange. P. 122 the TRIPs treaty in GATT recognizes IPRs only as private, not common, rights. This excludes all kinds of knowledge, ideas, and innovations that take place in the intellectual commons - in villages among farmers, in forests among tribespeople, an even in universities mong scientists. (and artists at Yale - so competitive and biting off each other)

IPRs, sophisticated name for modern piracy. With no regard or respect for other species and cultures, IPRs are a moral, ecological, and cultural outrage. Moreover, IPR actions in the biodiversity domain are tainted with cultural, racial, and sepces prejudice and arrogance.


P.123 the conservation of biodiversity, at the most fundamental level, is the ethical recognition that other species and cultures have rights, that they do not merely derive value from economic exploitation by a few privileged humans. The patenting and ownership of life-forms is ethically a statement of the opposite belief.


Cultural commons!


P. 124 Navdanya (nine seeds) or barnaja (twelve crops) are examples of highly productive systems of mixed farming or polycultures based on diversity, yielding more than any monoculture can. Unfortunately they are disappearing - not because of their low productivity, but because they need no inputs, being based on symbiosis with legumes providing nitrogen to cereals. In addition, their outputs are diverse - providing all of the nutritional inputs a family needs. This diversity, however, acts against commercial interests, which need to maximize the production of a single output to maximize profits. Polycultures, by their very nature, are ecologically prudent. Thus, recovering diversity in production provides a countervailing force to the globalized, centralized, and homogenous systems of production that are destroying livelihoods, cultures, and ecosystems everywhere.


P.124 Satyagraha - response to recolinization through GATT


P.125 According to Gandhi, no tyranny can enslave people who consider it immoral to obey laws that are unjust. As he stated in Hind Swaraj: As long as the superstition that people should obey unjust laws exist, so long will slavery exist. And a passive resister alone can remove such a superstition.


Satyagraha is the key to self-rule, or swaraj. The phrase that echoed most during India’s freedom movement was “Swaraj hamara janmasidh adhikar hai” (self-rule is our birthright).

For Gandhi, and for the contemporary social movements in India, self-rule did not imply governance by a centralized state, but by decentralized communities. “Nate na raj” (our rule in our village) is one slogan from India’s grassroots environmental movement.


Swadeshi is the spirit of regeneration, a method of creative reconstruction. According to the swadshi philosophy, people already possess, both materially and morally, what they need to free themselves of oppressive structures.


Swadeshi, for Gandhi, was a positive concept based on building on the resources, skills, and institutions of a community, and when necessary, transforming them. Imposed resources, institutions, and structures leave a people unfree. For Gandhi, swadeshi was central to the creation of peace and freedom.


In the free trade era, the rural communities of India are redefining nonviolence and freedom by reinventing the concepts of swadeshi, swaraj, and satyagraha. They are saying “no” to unjust laws, like the GATT treaty, that legalize the theft of the biological and intellectual heritage of Third World communities.


The charkha (spinning wheel) became an important symbol of freedom not because it was big and powerful, but because it was small; it could come alive as a sign of resistance and creativity in the smallest of huts and poorest of families. In smallness lay its power.


The seed too, is small. It embodies diversity and the freedom to stay alive.

Recent Posts

See All

P.24 eroticism opens the way to death. Death opens the way to the denial of our individual lives. Without doing violence to our inner selves, are we able to beat a negation that carries us to the fart