Indigenous peoples, farmers' organizations and civil society representatives are bracing to defend a de facto United Nations' moratorium on seed sterilization technology - the moratorium is now under attack by the multinational seed and biotech industry. A meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity, where "suicide seeds" are on the agenda, gets underway in Spain next week (January 2006). The UN moratorium - which recommends against the field-testing and commercial sale of seed sterilization technology - is under attack. Delta & Pine Land (a multinational seed company) and the US Department of Agriculture recently won new patents on Terminator in Europe and Canada.
News & blogs
Some of us at ETC have just spent the past three days in a drafting group for the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation's inspiring What Next? project. Hopefully we will write more about What Next? as it gets closer to completion. Briefly the What Next? project its an attempt to stop, reflect and look forward to the challenges and issues Civil Society faces in the coming thirty years. How will we organise ourselves? what new global trends will we be leading or responding to?
Welcome to our ETC Blog - an occassional space for analysis, links and flagging up some of the more interesting stuff that ETC staff are reading, writing and thinking about on a day to day basis.
The Coalition Against Biopiracy exposed the globe's nastiest biopirates and rewarded the most steadfast resistors at the Captain Hook Awards on 24 March 2006 during the meeting of the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Curitiba, Brazil. This ETC Group Communique provides a detailed description of the 2006 award winners.
After more than a decade of negotiations, the CBD has yet to provide meaningful regulations to stop biopiracy – the monopolization of genetic resources and knowledge taken from the farming communities and peoples that have developed and nurtured those resources. The Captain Hook Awards for Biopiracy are given out at the meeting of the CBD’s COP to draw international attention to the Convention’s failure to put human rights above monopoly rights and for continuing to propagate the myth that equitable benefit sharing is achievable in the context of predatory patent regimes. Cog awards are given to those institutions, peoples’ organizations, governments and individuals who have fostered real opposition to biopiracy, defeated predatory patents or defended the intellectual and cultural integrity of farmers and Indigenous Peoples.
*In the Middle Ages, cogs were small ships built with high sides to make them less vulnerable to pirate attacks.
As governments at the 6th WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong bristle with the thorny politics of trade, the report that ETC Group releases today, Oligopoly, Inc. 2005, serves as a reminder that what looks like buying and selling between countries is most often the redistribution of capital among subsidiaries of the same parent multinational corporation.
According to Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group in Mexico: "It's no surprise that the industry is using the findings to serve its own interests - as 'proof' that contamination no longer exists and that GM crops should have free reign everywhere, even in the South's centers of crop genetic diversity. Indigenous and farming communities vigorously disagree with the biotech industry's self-serving interpretation of the study."
According to peasant communities in Oaxaca, the new findings are not terribly surprising. Baldemar Mendoza of UNOSJO (Union of Organisations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca) - who lives in the region covered by the new study - said, "We took samples in 3 of the 18 communities that the new report mentions (San Juan Ev. Analco, Ixtlan and Santa Maria Jaltianguis) and our results were also negative in those three communities." Mendoza points out that the geographic area sampled by the new study is small and the 18 communities are predominantly forest communities, which means that their main activity is not planting maize. Mendoza also points out, "The new study doesn't refer to any other part of Mexico where contamination has been found but some in the media are already making the false claim that 'there is no contamination in the whole state of Oaxaca or even all of Southern Mexico.'"
Twenty-five years after the biotech industry got the green light to patent life, nanotech goes after the building blocks of life.
On the 25th anniversary of Diamond vs. Chakrabarty,* the US Supreme Court's landmark decision (June 16, 1980) that opened the floodgates to the patenting of living organisms, ETC Group releases a new report, "Nanotech's 'Second Nature' Patents."
Ottawa - Dr. Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher of Ethiopia, Africa's chief scientist and negotiator for the Cartagena (biosafety) Protocol, received his Canadian visa late Tuesday evening (May 2005) Ethiopian time. Dr. Tewolde, who is scheduled to be in the crop biotech liability negotiations tomorrow morning, May 25 2005, in Montreal, has his bags packed and is awaiting a revised plane ticket that - even under ideal circumstances - could only get him to Montreal in time for the final day of the controversial set of UN negotiations (May 27). After extended discussions over Canada's Victoria Day holiday on Monday, a visa arrived in Ethiopia from the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi Tuesday.
In a breathtaking display of political interference, the Canadian government has blocked entry of Africa's chief negotiator for the Cartagena (biosafety) Protocol, who was scheduled to attend UN meetings beginning next week (2005) in Montreal. The Protocol is the United Nations treaty that governs the international movement of genetically modified (GM) organisms.
Dr. Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, the Ethiopian government's chief scientist and its representative to the Montreal-based UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) had his passport returned without the requested Canadian visa yesterday (May 2005), and without explanation.