September 11, 2000
12:22 AM   Subscribe

"The knowledge of the poor is being converted into the property of global corporations, creating a situation where the poor will have to pay for the seeds and medicines they have evolved and have used to meet their own needs for nutrition and health care." -- Vandana Shiva lectures on globalization and poverty.
posted by sudama (5 comments total)
s11 protestors win first round
posted by sudama at 12:53 AM on September 11, 2000

Great lecture, sudama. I agree, it's staggering the incredible arrogance of genetic engineering and chemical companies like Monsanto, who twiddle for a couple of years with seeds that have been created over centuries and millenia of breeding... and then patent them as their property! WTF?

Here are the quotes from the lecture I found most stirring: "These are not recipes for feeding the world, but stealing livelihoods from the poor to create markets for the powerful."

"Recently, because of a W.T.O. ruling, India has been forced to remove restrictions on all imports.
Among the unrestricted imports are carcasses and animal waste parts that create a threat to our culture and introduce public health hazards such as the Mad Cow Disease.
The US Centre for Disease Prevention in Atlanta has calculated that nearly 81 million cases of food borne illnesses occur in the US every year. Deaths from food poisoning have gone up more up more than four times due to deregulation.
Now the giant meat industry of US wants to dump contaminated meat produced through violent and cruel methods on Indian consumers."

There it is, another concrete example of the harmful effects of the WTO. And some statistics on the harmful effects of deregulation! It must be my birthday.

Of course, conservatives might claim that "consumers don't HAVE to buy meat from American companies... the marketplace will decide!" But thanks to the WTO & co., any regulation for food labeling to INFORM consumers where the meat is coming from, gets struck down! In an uninformed marketplace, the only "invisible hand" is the hand of the corporation, picking the pockets of consumers.

A really valuable find, sudama, thanks for pointing it out.
posted by wiremommy at 1:29 AM on September 11, 2000

Vandana Shiva is really brilliant. For an extended (but still accessible) treatment of the issues discussed in the Reith Lectures, check out Stolen Harvest.
posted by johnb at 2:11 AM on September 11, 2000

The BBC's followed this story very closely, particularly, the attempts of pharmaceutical corporations to patent traditional Indian medicines. But this lecture's a brilliant, comprehensive account of the hypocrisy and arrogance of corporations that claim to address the problems of the Third World through patents and genetic modification. It's good science, not hippydippy shit, to say that nature provides in abundance.
posted by holgate at 5:16 AM on September 11, 2000

Well, it seems to me that Ms. Shiva is calling into question the assumption that the markets have truly opened; hence her discussion on the 343 billion in agricultural subsidies by the OECD countries. We could infer that we need to open our markets MORE, not less. The implications of this position are staggering, if you consider the coalition now lined up against the WTO and globalization in the US. Consider Labor and farm groups here: they don't want any globalization. They do want protectionism. Farmers want to keep their subsidies, and labor wants to prevent their jobs from going to cheaper markets. It's obvious to anyone that reads that lecture or any of the fine literature out there that there are gaping, major flaws in the edifice of the WTO. We do need environmental protections, labeling requirements, an end to the ridiculous intellectual property rights regime, etc. BUT: the movement arrayed currently is not about doing this.

posted by norm at 12:21 PM on September 11, 2000

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