Biopiracy Patents and the Rise of Intellectual Imperialism

It is a defining characteristic of Western civilization that power-hungry men seek to declare ownership over all things they discover. For most of human history, such ownership efforts were focused on usable land. Owning land that could grow food, after all, was a valuable strategy for staying alive. As mechanized farming methods spread, power-hungry white men sought to own and control a labor force — and so human slavery was pursued.

I don’t just mean slavery in the U.S., by the way, and it wasn’t pursued exclusively by rich white men. World history is rife with nations engaged in routine slavery, from the Roman Empire and ancient Egypt to the not-so-ancient Brazil, where nearly genetically-identical people enslaved each other to work the rich Brazilian soils and produce agricultural profits.

From agriculture came the recognition of the value of seeds, and it wasn’t long before power-hungry men began patenting the seeds they discovered in nature. Corporations like Monsanto even began performing dark experiments on those seeds, inserting “Terminator” genes that caused second-generation seeds to self-destruct, thereby ensuring their continued ownership and control over those seeds.

Now, as the U.S. patent office has allowed corporations to patent life forms and human gene sequences, we are entering a new age where human beings no longer control their own genes. Corporations currently own 20 percent of the human genome, and in the near future, couples who wish to reproduce may be forced to pay intellectual property royalties to wealthy corporations in exchange for the “rights” to copy their own genes through sexual reproduction.

This is not some distant dystopian future I’m describing, by the way: This is present-day reality. Corporations are attempting to exert control over every thing of value that can possibly be patented, from natural botanical medicines invented by Mother Nature to the very seeds of life found in human DNA. The goal in all this? Complete ownership over the human race and every thing of value on the planet.

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