Quick Reads

Canadian Supreme Court Tramples Farmers' Rights -- Affirms Corporate Monopoly on Higher Life Forms

Civil society and farmers’ organizations worldwide reacted with outrage to today’s ( (21.04.2004) 5-4 decision by the Canadian Supreme Court, affirming Monsanto’s right to prosecute farmers who are found to have GM crops growing on their land — whether they wanted them or not. Gene Giant Monsanto accused Saskatchewan farmers Percy and Louise Schmeiser of violating the company’s patent on genetically modified canola (oilseed rape). Percy and Louise did not want Monsanto’s GM canola seeds that invaded their property, and they did not try to benefit from the herbicide-tolerant trait in the GM seed (that is, they didn’t spray Roundup weedkiller), but still Monsanto prosecuted them for patent infringement and demanded a portion of their income. The Schmeisers waged a courageous, 7-year battle against Monsanto that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

La Suprema Corte de Canadá pisotea los derechos de los agricultores y afirma el monopolio corporativo de Monsanto sobre seres vivos.

Organizaciones de la sociedad civil y de agricultores en todo el mundo reaccionaron con indignación ante la decisión por cinco votos contra cuatro que tomó hoy (21.04.2004) la Suprema Corte de Canadá, afirmando el derecho de Monsanto a demandar a los agricultores que tengan cultivos con genes transgénicos en sus parcelas, sea que los hayan elegido o que se hayan contaminado. El gigante genético Monsanto acusó a los agricultores de Saskatchewan, Percy y Louise Schmeiser, de violar la patente de la compañía sobre canola transgénica. Percy y Louise no querían las semillas de canola transgénica que invadieron su propiedad, ni trataron de aprovecharse del carácter tolerante al herbicida que tiene la semilla transgénica (o sea, ellos no utilizaron el herbicida Roundup en sus cultivos). De todos modos, Monsanto los demandó por violación a su patente y exigió una parte de sus ingresos. Con gran valor, los Schmeiser libraron durante siete años una batalla legal contra Monsanto que terminó en la Suprema Corte de Justicia de Canadá.

Canada's Supreme Court Rules on 'David & Goliath' Friday: Tell Monsanto Where to Go!

Letter warnings for Monsanto: There are 5 million Percy Schmeisers

Bees, beetles and blowing prairie winds can carry Monsanto’s genetically-modified canola a good 26 kilometers – and a whole lot farther if the transgenic seed or pollen hitches a ride on passing trucks, trains or trousers. After eight summers in Canada’s West, GM canola has earned the dubious status of a major weed – a common sight in fields, boulevards and cemeteries – and even backyard gardens. "Canola can winter over for 8 years," says ETC Group’s Pat Mooney in the NGO’s Winnipeg headquarters, "meaning GM pollen has probably travelled a minimum of 200 km since Monsanto first commercialized its patented seed in 1996." Which is why, Mooney reasons, just about everyone on the prairies has a direct, personal interest in the May 21st Supreme Court decision. Gene Giant Monsanto has accused Saskatchewan farmers Percy and Louise Schmeiser of illegally growing the company’s canola. "It’s not just farmers," insists Mooney. "There are about 5 million Percy Schmeisers out here [roughly the population of Canada’s three prairie provinces]. For all any of us know, we could have Monsanto’s canola in our window boxes."

La decisión de la Suprema corte de Justicia de Canadá sobre 'David y Goliat': Dígale a Monsanto a dónde irse

Cartas de advertencia para Monsanto: Hay 5 millones de Percys Schmeisers

Las abejas, escarabajos y vientos de las paraderas pueden transportar la canola genéticamente modificada de Monsanto un mínimo de 26 kilómetros -y mucho más si la semilla o el polen transgénico se van de polizones en los camiones que pasan, en los trenes o en la ropa de la gente. Después de ocho veranos en el oeste de Canadá, la canola transgénica ha adquirido la dudosa fama de ser una maleza importante -se le ve comúnmente en los campos, avenidas y cementerios e incluso en los jardines de las casas. "La canola puede invernar hasta ocho años", dice Pat Mooney del Grupo ETC desde la sede de esta organización en Winnipeg, Canadá. "Eso significa que el polen transgénico probablemente viajó un mínimo de 200 kilómetros desde que Monsanto comenzó a vender su semilla patentada en 1996." Por esta razón, explica Pat Mooney, la decisión del 21 de mayo de la Suprema Corte de Justicia, nos afecta a todos, y personalmente a los que viven en el campo. El gigante genético Monsanto acusó a los agricultores de Saskatchewan, Percy y Louise Schmeiser, de cultivar ilegalmente la canola patentada de la compañía. "Pero no se sólo trata de los agricultores", insiste Mooney. "Hay por lo menos 5 millones de Percy Schmeisers [prácticamente la población de las tres provincias de las pradera de Canadá]. Pues cualquiera de nosotros sabemos que la canola de Monsanto podría estar hasta en las macetas de nuestras ventanas."

Patentar genes e investigación es hipotecar el futuro

Recientemente, el Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados (Cinvestav) del Instituto Politécnico Nacional anunció la puesta en marcha del Laboratorio Nacional de Genómica para la Diversidad Vegetal y Microbiana. Los gigantes de la biotecnología "financian" proyectos de instituciones de interés público porque les permite acceder de manera cómoda y barata al germoplasma de los cultivos en diferentes países, utilizando la infraestructura, la formación pública y el conocimiento del medio de los investigadores nacionales, para luego aplicarlo en sus propios productos comerciales y, si viene al caso, patentar sus genes para el lucro de sus empresas.

Jazzing Up Jasmine: Atomically Modified Rice in Asia?

A nanotech research initiative in Thailand aims to atomically modify the characteristics of local rice varieties — including the country's famous jasmine rice — and to circumvent the controversy over Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Nanobiotech takes agriculture from the battleground of GMOs to the brave new world of Atomically Modified Organisms (AMOs).

In January 2004, Bangkok Post reported on a three-year research project at Chiang Mai University's nuclear physics laboratory,(1) funded by the National Research Council of Thailand, to atomically-modify rice. The research involves drilling a nano-sized hole (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter) through the wall and membrane of a rice cell in order to insert a nitrogen atom. The hole is drilled using a particle beam (a stream of fast-moving particles, not unlike a lightening bolt) and the nitrogen atom is shot through the hole to stimulate rearrangement of the rice's DNA.

Playing God in the Galapagos

J. Craig Venter, Master and Commander of Genomics, on Global Expedition to Collect Microbial Diversity for Engineering Life

The ETC Group releases a new Communiqué today (11.02.2004) that focuses on J. Craig Venter’s controversial ocean expedition that is circumnavigating the globe to collect microbial diversity from gene-rich seas and shores every 200 miles.

J. Craig Venter, the genomics mogul and scientific wizard who recently created a unique living organism from scratch in a matter of days, is searching for pay-dirt in biodiversity-rich marine environments around the world. Venter’s yacht, the Sorcerer II, is now steaming toward the South Pacific after collecting land and marine microbes from Maine to Mexico, Panama, Chile, and — most recently — on Ecuador’s famous Galapagos Islands.

BioPirates of the South China Sea: Captain Hook Awards Ceremony 2004

Hook meets COPs at the UN's Biodiversity Convention in Malaysia Friday the 13th Awards for Outstanding Malchievements

The Coalition Against Biopiracy (CAB) will present its highly un-coveted Captain Hook Awards – for infamous and outstanding malchievements in biopiracy – at the Biodiversity Convention (CBD) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday the 13th of February 2004. This is the third Global Biopiracy Awards ceremony since the Captain Hook awards were established in 1995. The previous awards were given out in ceremonies at the sixth meeting of the CBD (COP 6) in The Hague in 2002 and at the CBD's fifth meeting in Nairobi in 2000 (COP 5). The Coalition Against Biopiracy emphasizes that the Captain Hook Awards are a collaborative effort, made possible by the vigilance and analysis of many civil society and peoples’ movements around the world. This year, for the first time, the public was invited to make nominations by submitting claims along with full documentation to the CAB's web site at www.captainhookawards.org.

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