On December 4, 2008, while most folks in the United States were eating the last slices of pumpkin pie left over from Thanksgiving dinner, the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) published patent application US20080301830A1 on a Warted pumpkin, “invented” by the Director of Sales & Marketing at Siegers Seed Company in Holland, Michigan, USA. The patent application claims a “warted pumpkin...wherein the outer shell includes at least one wart associated with the outer shell of the body.”
ETC Group joined the chorus of voices, including the German Environment Ministry, expressing its deep regret at the decision of the German Minister of Research to re-authorize the controversial LOHAFEX ocean fertilization expedition. Researchers on board the German vessel RV Polarstern have now begun dumping 6 tons of iron sulphate over 300 square kilometers of open ocean in the Scotia Sea (east of Argentina) to artificially prompt the growth of a large plankton bloom. It will be one of the largest ocean fertilization experiments to date.
ETC Group and our allies in Germany, India and South Africa reported on an Indo-German research expedition, codenamed LOHAFEX, which was about to breach the global moratorium on ocean fertilisation established through the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).(2) The LOHAFEX researchers plan to spread 6 tonnes of iron sulphate (in earlier statements, they said they had 20 tonnes of iron sulphate)(3) over a 300 square kilometre patch of ocean, in order to spur phytoplankton growth. This "ocean fertilization" experiment is just one example of proposed technologies to intentionally alter the climate, known collectively as geo-engineering. By targeting the high seas, the LOHAFEX researchers are clearly breaching the terms of the CBD moratorium.(4)
A controversial climate-engineering expedition – flying the German flag – set sail from South Africa, in defiance of a United Nations agreement signed by 191 nations and brokered by Germany last May. In response, civil society groups are calling on governments and United Nations to take action.
ETC Group released a 48-page report, "Who Owns Nature?" on corporate concentration in commercial food, farming, health and the strategic push to commodify the planet's remaining natural resources.
In a world where market research is becoming increasingly proprietary and pricey, ETC Group's report names names, discloses market share and provides top 10 industry rankings up and down the corporate food chain. Not all the corporations identified in ETC Group's new report are household names, but collectively they control a staggering share of the commercial products found on industrial farms, in our refrigerators and medicine cabinets.
Synthetic biologists, a brave new breed of science entrepreneurs who engineer life-forms from scratch, will hold their largest-ever global gathering in Hong Kong, October 10-12 2008, known as "Synthetic Biology 4.0." Although most people have never heard of synthetic biology, it's moving full speed ahead fueled by giant agribusiness, energy and chemical corporations with little debate about who will control the technology, how it will be regulated (or not) and despite grave concerns surrounding the safety and security risks of designer organisms. Corporate investors/partners include BP, Chevron, Shell, Virgin Fuels, DuPont, Microsoft, Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland.
Stalled at the eleventh hour by three isolated countries that are attempting to block consensus, most of the world’s environment ministries and others are on the brink of reaching agreement on a worldwide moratorium on commercial ocean fertilization – controversial proposals to dump nutrients in the ocean to artificially alter the climate. The three blocking countries, Australia, China and Brazil have spent several days manipulating the process to avoid discussion and prevent progress, much to the exasperation of delegates and observers. The clock runs out on negotiations at 6pm today (30. May 2008).
Today (21. May 2008) the world learned which corporations, governments, institutions and individuals earned a spot in biopiracy’s hall of shame when the Coalition Against Biopiracy (CAB) announced the winners of the 5th Captain Hook Awards at a lunch-time ceremony during the Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Bonn, Germany.
A report released by Canadian-based civil society organization, ETC Group, reveals that the world's largest seed and agrochemical corporations are stockpiling hundreds of monopoly patents on genes in plants that the companies will market as crops genetically engineered to withstand environmental stresses associated with climate change - including drought, heat, cold, floods, saline soils, and more. ETC Group's report warns that - rather than a solution for confronting climate change - the promise of so-called "climate-ready" crops will be used to drive farmers and governments onto a proprietary biotech platform.
The infamous Enola bean patent, first denounced by ETC Group eight years ago as a textbook case of biopiracy, was struck down yesterday (April 29, 2008) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in Washington, D.C. One of the most controversial plant patents in history, the effort to defeat it was unprecedented because it involved the United Nations and international plant breeding institutes.