Biopiracy: Pirates were a bloodthirsty lot who stole and
killed to make themselves rich. Often, they ended up getting killed
themselves. They were outlaws, hunted down whenever possible by
naval ships from various countries. The biopirates are a bit different.
They don't kill, they patent.
And they are completely protected by the law so nobody hunts them.
They are usually employed by corporations or even governments
to go and collect genetic material (e.g. seeds) from places like
India or the Amazon.
In India, the neem tree has been used by people for thousands
of years for things like killing pests and as a medicine. An American
company patented the tree which means that anyone using it should,
by law, pay the company. This has outraged
many people on the receiving end of this legalised theft. The
Indian scientist Vandana Shiva claims that the real cause of biopiracy
is the left-over colonial idea dating back to Columbusís 'discovery'.
'discovered' the Americas in 1492 and from that time on, Europeans began to take
the land away from the native Americans, the original inhabitants of what are
now Latin and North America. (They did the same in Africa and Australia.) The
Americas became Europe's colonies, to be exploited in any way - including killing
native people if they objected. It's this
same colonial tunnel vision which permits the piracy of gene resources
and knowledge from non-Western cultures to be claimed as 'invention'.
This means this once-free heritage of seeds or knowledge can be
protected by patent. This is just legalised stealing. Knowledge
now strangled by patents (called in legal language 'intellectual
property rights' or IPRs) used to be freely shared between everybody
who needed to use it. Now,
after patenting, people have to buy it to be able to use it legally
- including those who had learned it as it was passed down through
each generation in their communities. I don't know what you think
about that but I think it's wrong. Your laws need changing!