Saturday, February 21, 2004

Another reason why I don't like this company

Still one more example of corporate welfare and theft of public resources, this time in India:
    Monsanto, the world's largest genetically modified seed company, has been awarded patents on the wheat used for making chapati - the flat bread staple of northern India.
    The patents give the US multinational exclusive ownership over Nap Hal, a strain of wheat whose gene sequence makes it particularly suited to producing crisp breads.

    Another patent, filed in Europe, gives Monsanto rights over the use of Nap Hal wheat to make chapatis, which consist of flour, water and salt.

    Environmentalists say Nap Hal's qualities are the result of generations of farmers in India who spent years crossbreeding crops and collective, not corporate, efforts should be recognised

    Monsanto, activists claim, is simply out to make "monopoly profits" from food on which millions depend. Monsanto inherited a patent application when it bought the cereals division of the Anglo-Dutch food giant Unilever in 1998, and the patent has been granted to the new owner.

    Unilever acquired Nap Hal seeds from a publicly funded British plant gene bank. Its scientists identified the wheat's combination of genes and patented them as an "invention".

    Greenpeace is attempting to block Monsanto's patent, accusing the company of "bio-piracy".

    "It is theft of the results of the work in cultivation made by Indian farmers," said Dr Christoph Then, Greenpeace's patent expert after a meeting with the European Commission in Delhi.
More commentary here.

Way back in the dark ages, I used to be an avid sci-fi fan. Now I don't put the time into it because it seems as though I'm reading about it in real life, which makes it even more horrifying. Many of the short stories had the theme of robots or machinery gone amuck. Now I think it's not robots but big corporations, soulless and disconnected from any sense of common good towards the earth and humans, exhibiting sociopathic behavior.