Continuing genengineering hysteria

Harsha Godavari (h.godavari@home.com)
Sat, 18 Sep 1999 14:14:50 -0500

Should they be so possesive really?
.........

> !19990916 A patent on curry??? Indigenous people versus TRIPS
>
> In November, the World Trade Organization is having a big meeting in
> Seattle, and as we speak many organizations are planning protests,
> basically from two points of views: American groups unhappy with WTO's
> environmental decision making, and third world groups unhappy with
> provisions in TRIPS that they feel lead to theft of bioresources from
> their country (some of the groups protesting include the International
> Forum on Globalization, www.ifg.org, the People for Fair Trade / NO to
> WTO, www.seattlewto.org, and Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch,
> www.tradewatch.org).
> The meeting is a classic example of money politics distorting
> intellectual property policy making, much like the current patent reform
> legislation in Congress, i.e., "if you have the big bucks, we will take
> you seriously". For example, for $250,000 donation, you can buy a ticket
> to the opening and closing receptions, the "ministerial dinner", and a
> business conference. Where's my checkbook? An article critical of WTO
> and this meeting is at http://www.sfbg.com/News/33/50/50wto.html.
>
> Two items floating over the net illustrate the heated issues that are
> still unresolved. One conveys the unhappiness of many Indians over the
> latest attempt to patent their cultural heritage, in this case, an attempt
> to patent uses of curry. The second is a third world petition protesting
> aspects of TRIPS, in particular Article 27.3b, which they argue doesn't
> provide enough protection to their countries to protest their indigenous
> bioresources.
>
> Greg Aharonian
> Internet Patent News Service
> ====================
> NOW CURRY PATENTS -- INDIA "UNPREPARED" FOR SEATTLE
> By Ranjit Dev Raj
> IPS News Bulletin, 15 Sep 1999, www.ips.org
>
> NEW DELHI, Sep 15 (IPS) - It is enough to get Indians hot under the
> collar. Curry, that fiery, condiment-laden sauce, so essential to Indian
> cuisine, is in danger of falling to Japanese patent hunters.
>
> There have been other overseas claimants to the ownership of curry. Not
> long ago, the British Tourist Authority (BTA) declared it Britain's
> national dish in acknowledgment of its phenomenal popularity among
> restaurant clientele in London.
>
> But the BTA was never so proprietorial about curry as Hirayama Makoto and
> Ohashi Sachiyo -- two enterprising Japanese who have a patent application
> pending on the pungent preparation.
>
> If granted, the patent could give them exclusive rights to the process of
> making curry: "by adding extracted spices to ingredients like cut and
> processed onions, heating the mixture, adding curry powder and heating
> until the mixture becomes viscous".
>
> Devinder Sharma, an expert on food security and patent issues who blew the
> whistle on the Japanese, warns that such piracy of traditional knowledge
> is bound to increase in future thanks to poor initiatives by the Indian
> government.
>
> "India and other developing countries desperately need to get their act
> together before the 'Millennium Round' of the World Trade Organisation
> (WTO) in Seattle Nov. 30", Sharma said.
>
> So far, the government's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research
> (CSIR) has succeeding in getting cancelled patents taken out in the U.S on
> turmeric (curcuma longa), a root used for centuries as 'grandma's remedy'
> for healing wounds.
>
> But apart from that singular success, which CSIR has been crowing about,
> India has watched helplessly as patents were taken out on processes and
> products drawn from this country's vast storehouse of both traditional
> knowledge and biodiversity.
>
> For example, no less that 70 patents have been granted on the products of
> the neem tree (azadirachta indica) which is native to Indian and whose
> uses range from the treatment of fever, snake-bites, leprosy and as a
> natural insecticide and disinfectant.
>
> The piracy list is long and includes the vegetable 'karela' (bitter gourd)
> known to counter diabetes, urinary infection and arthritis but against
> which the New York University has taken out two patents already.
>
> India's stakes are high because it happens to be one of the world's
> richest biodiversity hotspots with over 81,000 species of recorded fauna
> and 47,000 species of flora with 15,000 of the plant varieties unique to
> this country.
>
> Most ordinary Indians became aware of the real threats posed by the
> patents regime, sought to be imposed under the General Agreement on Trade
> and Tariffs (GATT), when a U.S company obtained, last year, patents on the
> famed 'basmati' variety of rice grown only in India and Pakistan.
>
> They also became aware of the bumbling way in which the government has
> been handling the patents issue responsible for emboldening biopirates and
> patent buccaneers to lay outrageous claims to items whose origins were
> thought indisputable.
>
> In the five years since the signing of the GATT agreement at Marrakesh,
> the government has lost substantial control over investment and trade with
> the space steadily getting occupied by transnational corporations (TNCs)
> and other interest groups.
>
> India has been dragged to the WTO Dispute Panel on at least 20 occasions
> and lost most of the cases under what are called trade-distorting
> subsidies while it cannot afford expensive legal battles in developed
> countries.
>
> Vandana Shiva of the independent, Research Foundation for Science
> Technology and Ecology (RFSTE) has pointed out that the "theft of the
> basmati patent involved a theft of the intellectual and biodiversity
> heritage of Indian farmers and traders and a deception of consumers".
>
> But the government has had to stand by while other glaring commercial
> thefts such as the use of the 'Darjeeling' label on tea which originated
> in countries far away from the Himalayan district where the genuine item
> grows.
>
> With just two months to go before the Seattle ministerial round, the
> bureaucracy has finally begun preparatory work this week to formulate a
> negotiating stand which is expected to oppose current emphasis on the
> patents regime.
>
> "Virtually nothing has been done by way of preparation for a meeting that
> would decide effectively whether India ranked among the poorest countries
> in the world would ever be able to move out of the poverty trap ...",
> complained Biplab Dasgupta a legislator and member of the Marxist
> Communist Party of India.
>
> Dasgupta accused the government of deliberately steering away from a
> national consensus on WTO issues and taking advantage of the current
> political instability to formulate policies which may not be in the
> country's best interests.
>
> India is currently engaged in a five-week long election to vote into power
> its fifth government in three years - one which cannot be in office till
> the second week of October leaving little time for any meaningful debate
> on the issue.
>
> Ideally, Dasgupta said, the election should have been used as an
> opportunity to initiate national debate on an issue which vitally concerns
> the people.
>
> According to Dasgupta, it is important that India challenges the extension
> of patenting to life forms under the Trade Related Intellectual Property
> Rights (TRIPS) agreement which has resulted in a rush of bioprospecting in
> developing countries by TNCs.
>
> TRIPS is already in conflict with the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD)
> since the latter asserts that intellectual property rights must not be in
> conflict with conservation and sustainable use use of biodiversity.
>
> But India with its low 0.6 percent share in world trade has little real
> negotiating power and has so far failed to take along other countries,
> even its neighbours in South Asia, on issues of common interest such as
> basmati and jute and tea prices.
>
> What is more, India's two main national parties, the ruling Bharatiya
> Janata Party and the opposition Congress seem little inclined to put up a
> fight to protect India's economic interests.
>
> In February, the two parties ensured passage of patent legislation which
> not only granted granted exclusive marketing rights (EMRs) to drug and
> agrochemical TNCs but also allowed them to poach on Indian traditional
> medicine.
>
> That legislation has since been challenged as unconstitutional in the
> Supreme Court by Shiva's RFSTE, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Indian Farmer's
> Union) and the People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), among others
> leading activist and mass-based groups.
>
> Last October, Indian negotiators agreed to abide by the Paris Convention
> for the Protection of Industrial Property and Patent Cooperation Treaty,
> the U.N patents agency, ignoring warnings by these groups.
>
> This time the Indian delegation will reach Seattle without doing their
> homework thanks to the "criminal indifference, if not actual complicity
> with multinationals, on the part of the government", Dasgupta said.
> ====================
> NO TO PATENTING OF LIFE!
>
> INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' STATEMENT ON THE TRADE-RELATED
> ASPECTS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS (TRIPS) OF THE WTO AGREEMENT
> Adopted in Geneva on 25 July 1999
>
> WE, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES from around the world, believe that nobody can own
> what exists in nature except nature herself. A human being cannot own its
> own mother. Humankind is part of Mother Nature, we have created nothing
> and so we can in no way claim to be owners of what does not belong to us.
> But time and again, western legal property regimes have been imposed on
> us, contradicting our own cosmologies and values.
>
> WE VIEW with regret and anxiety how, Article 27.3b of the Trade-Related
> Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade
> Organization (WTO) Agreements will further denigrate and undermine our
> rights to our cultural and intellectual heritage, our plant, animal, and
> even human genetic resources and discriminate against our indigenous ways
> of thinking and behaving. This Article makes an artificial distinction
> between plants, animals, and micro-organisms and between "essentially
> biological" and "microbiological processes" for making plants and
> animals. As far as we are concerned all these are life forms and life
> creating processes which are sacred and which should not become the
> subject of proprietary ownership.
>
> WE KNOW that intellectual property rights as defined in the TRIPS
> Agreement are monopoly rights given to individual or legal persons (e.g.
> transnational corporations) who can prove that the inventions or
> innovations they made are novel, involve an innovative step and are
> capable of industrial application. The application of this form of
> property rights over living things as if they are mechanical or industrial
> inventions is inappropriate. Indigenous knowledge and cultural heritage
> are collectively and accretionally evolved through generations. Thus, no
> single person can claim invention or discovery of medicinal plants, seeds
> or other living things.
>
> The inherent conflict between these two knowledge systems and the manner
> in which they are protected and used will cause further disintegration of
> our communal values and practices. It can also lead to infighting between
> indigenous communities over who has ownership over a particular knowledge
> or innovation. Furthermore, it goes against the very essence of indigenous
> spirituality which regards all creation as sacred.
>
> WE ARE AWARE of the various implications of the TRIPS Agreement on our
> lives as indigenous peoples. It will lead to the appropriation of our
> traditional medicinal plants and seeds and our indigenous knowledge on
> health, agriculture and biodiversity conservation. It will undermine food
> security, since the diversity and agricultural production on which our
> communities depend would be eroded and would be controlled by individual,
> private and foreign interests. In addition, the TRIPS Agreement will
> substantially weaken our access to and control over genetic and biological
> resources; plunder our resources and territories; and contribute to the
> deterioration of our quality of life.
>
> IN THE REVIEW of the Article 27.3 (b) of the TRIPS Agreement, therefore,
> our proposals are as follows:
>
> This Article should be amended to categorically disallow the patenting of
> life forms. Thus, the revised Article 27.3b should clearly prohibit the
> patenting of plants and animals including all their parts, meaning, genes,
> gene sequences, cells, proteins, seeds, etc. It should also prohibit the
> patenting of natural processes involving the use of plants, animals and
> other living organisms and their parts and processes used in producing
> variations of plants, animals, and micro-organisms.
>
> The provision for the protection of plant varieties by either a patent, a
> sui generis system, or a combination of both should amended and elaborated
> further: It should:
>
> - Disallow the use of patents to protect plant varieties.
>
> - Ensure that the sui generis system which may be created will
> protect the knowledge and innovations and practices in farming,
> agriculture, health and medical care, and conservation of
> biodiversity of indigenous peoples and farmers.
>
> - Build upon the indigenous methods and customary laws protecting
> knowledge and heritage and biological resources.
>
> - Ensure that the protection offered to the indigenous and
> traditional innovation, knowledge, and practices are consistent
> with the Convention of Biological Diversity (i.e. Articles 8j,
> 10c, 17.2, and 18.4) and the International Undertaking on Plant
> Genetic Resources.
>
> - Allow for the right of indigenous peoples and farmers to continue
> their traditional practices of saving, sharing, and exchanging
> seeds; and harvesting, cultivating, and using medicinal plants;
>
> - Prevent the appropriation, theft, and piracy of indigenous seeds,
> medicinal plants, and the knowledge around the use of these by
> researchers, academic institutions, and corporations, etc.
>
> - Integrate the principle and practice of prior informed consent,
> which means that the consent of indigenous peoples as
> communities or as collectivities should be obtained before any
> research or collection of plants will be undertaken. The right
> of indigenous peoples to veto any bioprospecting activity should
> be guaranteed. Mechanisms to enforce prior informed consent
> should be installed.
>
> - Prevent the destruction and conversion of indigenous peoples'
> lands which are rich in biodiversity through projects like mines,
> monocrop commercial plantations, dams, etc. and recognize the
> rights of indigenous peoples to these lands and territories.
>
> We urge the WTO Member-States to put the amendment of the TRIPS Agreement
> as a priority item in agenda of the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Conference
> in Seattle. The implementation of the TRIPS Agreement in its present form
> will have devastating social and environmental consequences which will be
> irreversible. It is an imperative, therefore, that this Agreement be
> amended to prohibit the patenting of lifeforms and the piracy of
> indigenous peoples knowledge and resources.
>
> We also call on all the WTO Member-States to work for the extension of the
> deadline of the implementation of Article 27.3b of TRIPS to the year 2006,
> five years after the completion of the review of this has been done.
>
> Finally, we reiterate our commitment to sustain our struggle to have our
> rights to our intellectual and cultural heritage and our lands and
> resources promoted and protected. We call on the WTO to become an
> instrument in promoting our rights instead of enacting and imposing
> Agreements which are violative or undermining our rights as distinct
> peoples.
>
> Signed at the United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, on 25 July l999
>
> SIGNATORIES:
>
> INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' ORGANIZATIONS, NGOS AND NETWORKS
>
> l. Victoria Tauli Corpuz
> Tebtebba Foundation and Asian Indigenous Women's Network
> Philippines
>
> 2. Aucan Huilcaman
> Consejo de Todas Las Tierras Mapuche
> Chile
>
> 3. Johnson Ole Kaunga
> OSILIGI (Organisation for the Survival of Il-Laikipiak Indigenous Group
> Initiative)
> Kenya
>
> 4. Mililani Trask
> Na Koa Ikai Ka o Kalahui Hawaii
> United States of America
>
> 5. Antonio Jacanimijoy
> COICA (Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indigenas de la Cuenca Amazonica)
> Ecuador
>
> 6. Rodrigo de la Cruz
> COICA
> Ecuador
>
> 7. Fortunato Turpo
> Comision Juridica de los Pueblos de Integracion Tahuantinsuyana (COJPITA)
> Peru
>
> 8. Marcial Arias
> Associacion Napguana
> Panama
>
> 9. Tomas Condori
> CISA
> Bolivia
>
> 10. Nolasco Mamani
> CISA (Consejo Indio de Sud America)
> Bolivia
>
> 11. Ramon Conde
> Taller de Historia Andina (THOA)
> Bolivia
>
> 12. Eugenio Poma
> World Council of Churches
> Bolivia
>
> 13. Cesar Sarasara
> Confederacion de Nacionalidades Amazonicos del Peru (CONAP)
> Peru
>
> 14. Eduardo Gaunilo
> Guatemala
>
> 15. Jose Canceunco Cocio
> Mexico
>
> 16. Ara Rusuramang
> Aboriginal Cultural Promotion Association
> Taiwan
>
> 17. Nger-Nger
> Aboriginal Cultural Promotion Association
> Taiwan
>
> 18. Ligerlale A-wu
> Aboriginal Cultural Promotion Association
> Taiwan
>
> 18. Julius Madulu
> Hadza People
> Tanzania
>
> 19. Lourdes Maldonado
> Federacion Indigena y Campesina de Imbabura (FICI)
> Ecuador
>
> 20. Simon Charles
> Hadza Peoples
> Tanzania
>
> 21. Alison Johnston
> Caldwell First Nation
> Canada
>
> 22.Lucy Mulenkei
> African Indigenous Womens Network/Indigenous Information Network
> Kenya
>
> 23. Tracey Whare
> Ngatira Marae / Ngatira Lands Trust
> Aotearoa/New Zealand
>
> 24. Estebancio Castro
> Movimiento de la Juventud Kuna (MJK)
> Panama
>
> 25. Marty Waters
> Native Council of Port Heiden
> USA
>
> 26. Loyal David Hauheng
> Bawm Indigenous Peoples' Organization
> Bangladesh
>
> 27. Samiran Dewan
> Forum for Development in Chittagong Hill Tracts
> Bangladesh
>
> 28. Khua Ukltan
> Chin Human Rights Organization
> Burma
>
> 29. Hkun Okker
> PaO Peoples Liberation Organization
> Thailand
>
> 30. David Cung Bik Ling
> Chin Human Rights Organization
> Switzerland
>
> 31. Joan Carling
> Cordillera Peoples' Alliance (CPA)
> Philippines
>
> 32. Chito Balintay
> Pagkakaisa ng Aeta ng Pinatubo
> Philippines
>
> 33. Nepuni Piku
> Naga Peoples' Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR)
> India
>
> 34. Clotilde Musabeyezu
> Association pour la Promotion des Batwa (APB) Femmes Masnabamdi
> Rwanda
>
> 35. Jose Morales
> Asociacion Tohil Morales de los Ninos Mayas de Guatemala
> Guatemala
>
> 36. Kittisack Rattanakanjangrii
> IMPECT (Inter-Mountain Peoples Education and Culture in Thailand
> Thailand
>
> 37. Maria Mangte
> Indian Confederation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ICITP)
> India
>
> 38. Derhagra Mochahary
> United Bodo Nationalists Liberation Front
> India
>
> 39. Prithibi Majhi
> Adivasi Socio-Education and Cultural Association
> India
>
> 40. Francoise Crozier
> Federation des Organisations Amerindiennes de Guyane Francaise
> French Guiana
>
> 41.Alfred Ilenre
> International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical
> Forests/ Ethnic Minority Rights Organization of Africa
> Nigeria
>
> 42.Robi Lal Basumatra
> India
>
> 43. Jebra Ram Muchahary
> Tribal Welfare Society Assam Branch
> India
>
> 44. Hubertus Samangun
> IAITPTP
> Indonesia
>
> 45. Parshu Ram Tamang
> Nepal Tamang Ghedung
> Nepal
>
> 46. Euclides Pereira
> COICA
> Brazil
>
> 47. Senchumo Lotha
> Naga Students Federation
> Nagaland, India
>
> 48. Ratnaker Bhengra
> JOHAR
> India
>
> 49. Lars Anders Baer
> Saami Council
> Sweden
>
> 50. Eduardo Solang
> Cordillera Peoplesí Alliance
> Philippines
>
> 51. Oki Kano
> Ainu International Network
> Japan
>
> 52. Kiyomi Matsushima
> AIP in Ryukyus/Uchinan-Chu
> Japan
>
> 53. Hidenori Chinen
> AIP in Ryukyus
> Japan
>
> 54. Andrea Flores Tonconi
> Organicacion de Mujereres Aymaras del Kollasuyo (OMAK)
> Bolivia
>
> 55. Tarcila Rivera Zea
> CHIRAPAQ
> Peru
>
> 56. Bineet Jaynel Mundu
> Chotanagpur Adivasi Seva Samiti (CASS/Munda)
> India
>
> 57. Liton Bom
> Chin Human Rights Organization
> Burma
>
> 58. Juan Leon
> Defensoria Maya
> Guatemala
>
> 59. Rigoberto Juarez Mateo
> Coordinadora de Organizaciones del Pueblo Maya de Guatemala
> Guatemala
>
> 60. Helena Begay
> Sovereign Dineh Nation of Cactus Valley/Red Willow Springs Community
> USA
>
> 61. Neingulo Krome
> Naga Peoples' Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR)
> India
>
> 62. Amina Zioual
> ANCAP-Tamaynut
> Morocco
>
> 63. Ahmed Arehmouch
> ANCAP-Tamaynut
> Morocco
>
> 64. Hjalmar Dahl
> Inuit Circumpolar Conference
> Greenland
>
> 65. Raja Devasish Roy
> Chakma Chief: TAUNGYA
> Bangladesh
>
> 66. Joji Carino
> Tebtebba Foundation
> United Kingdom
>
> 67. Jimid Mansayagan
> Lumad Mindanaw Peoplesí Federation
> Philippines
>
> INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' SUPPORT AND ADVOCATE GROUPS
>
> 68. Jose Montes
> France
>
> 69. Miriam Anne Frank
> Netherlands Centre for Indigenous Peoples (NCIV)
> The Netherlands
>
> 70. Fiona Archer
> South Africa
>
> 71. Maurizio Farhan Ferrari
> Forest Peoplesí Programme
> United Kingdom
>
> 72. Enrique Cano
> Spain
>
> 73. Richard Rainsford
>
> 74. Genaro Blanco
> Pagkakaisa ng Aeta ng Pinatubo
> Philippines
>
> 75. Roger Gaberell
> Switzerland
>
> 76. Thomas Stenersen
> Switzerland
>
> 77. Josdoa Inaki Arregi
> Basque, Spain
>
> 78. Toshi Aiuchi
> Shimin Gaikou Centre (SGC)
> Japan
>
> 79. Uemura Hideaki
> SGC
> Japan
>
> 80. Lo Man Fong
> SGC
> Japan
>
> 81. Chika Onaka
> SGC
> Japan
>
> 82. Kelly Dietz
> SGC
> Japan
>
> 83. Eri Ocho
> SGC
> Japan
>
> 84. Anneke Groth
> Tourism Alert
> Switzerland
>
> 85. Carla Barbosa
> Secretaria do Estado de Sao Paulo do Meio Ambiente
> Brazil
>
> 86. Andrea Muhlebach
> International Workgroup for Indigenous Affairs
> USA
>
> 87. Rebecca Fan
> University of Colombia
> USA
>
> 86. Yvonne Mei-Jung
> Aboriginal Cultural Promotion Association
> Taiwan
>
> 87. Raymundo Rovillos
> Tebtebba Foundation
> Philippines
>
> Those who would like to sign on please send an e-mail to
> tebtebba@skyinet.net or vco@skyinet.net or a fax message to TEBTEBBA
> FOUNDATION at 63-74-4439459. Please write your name, your organization,
> and your address.