Free people from dictatorship of the 0.01%

Published on ZNet (first on Asian Age), by Vananda Shiva, Aug 15, 2016.

The only way to counter globalisation just a plot of land in some central place, keep it covered in grass, let there be a single tree, even a wild tree.” This is how dear friend and eminent writer Mahasweta Devi, who passed away on July 28, at the age of 90, quietly laid out her imagination for freedom in our times of corporate globalisation in one of her last talks.  

Our freedoms, she reminds us, are with grass and trees, with wildness and self-organisation (swaraj), when the dominant economic systems would tear down every tree and round up the last blade of grass … //

… Monsanto wrote the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement of WTO — which is an attempt to claim seeds as Monsanto’s invention, and own seeds as “intellectual property” through patents. It has only one aim — to own and control seed and make super-profits through the collection of royalties. We have seen the consequences of this illegitimate corporate-defined “property” right in India; with extortion of “royalties” for genetically modified (GMO) seeds leading to high seed prices.

Cargill, Inc wrote the WTO’s agreement on agriculture. As a result, India, the largest producer of oilseeds and pulses, has become the biggest importer of both these produce. The edible oils being imported are GMO soya oil and palm oil — both extracted with hexane through solvent extraction; both leading to massive deforestation in Argentina, Indonesia and Brazil. We are importing dal from Canada and Mozambique, while our fertile pulse growing lands are being handed over to foreign corporations for growing bio fuel. This model destroys agriculture and food systems everywhere. We are thus destroying our health as well as the health of the planet … //

… The TPP requires all its signatories to join UPOV 91. It allows patents on “inventions derived from plants” which would open the floodgates of bio-piracy, as in the case of neem, basmati and wheat. The TPP has sections on “biologicals” which covers biological processes and products, thus undoing the exclusions in the WTO TRIPS agreement. Given how there is a rush to patent and impose untested and hazardous vaccines, and new GMO technologies like gene editing and gene drives, it is clear that the TPP is the instrument for the next stage of bio-imperialism.

At WTO, India managed to ensure countries could exclude plants and animals from patentability, which translated into article 3(j) in our patent laws. India ensured that UPOV could not be forced through WTO and countries had a sui generis option for plant varieties. This translated into the Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act 2001, for which the writer was a member of the expert drafting group.

Not having achieved total monopoly on seeds through the WTO, chemical corporations (biotechnology and seed corporations) are trying to impose patents on all living organisms and all production systems based on living organisms through new FTAs. They are also trying to further destroy our local food systems and replace them with industrial junk food by changing food and health safety as well as bio-safety, through “harmonisation”.

Finally, global corporations, and those who control them, are trying to define corporations as having personhood through investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) systems, which are secret tribunals where corporations and investors can sue governments for acting according to their constitutional obligations in the interest of their citizens.

Thus, corporations are trying to replace our democracies with secret agreements and secret courts controlled by the 0.01 per cent super wealthy. The time is ripe for a planetary freedom movement that defends and protects the freedoms of all beings from this 0.01 per cent.

(full text).


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