Quick Reads

Monsanto's Species-Wide Patent on Trial

May 6-7 2003, European Patent Office Hears Patent Challenge in Munich - Eight and One-Half Years Later!

Remember 1994? Nine years ago: Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize, Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa, US President Bill Clinton sent ground troops to the Persian Gulf to counter a move by Iraq's Saddam Hussein, and Brazil won the World Cup. The United Nations' Biodiversity Convention entered into force in 1994 and the Uruguay Round of GATT was drawing to a close. In the "life sciences" cosmos, Monsanto and Dupont were chemical companies with minor interests in seeds and Syngenta did not yet exist. ETC Group was known as RAFI. Also in 1994, a small biotech subsidiary of W.R. Grace, Agracetus, won a breathtakingly broad patent on all genetically modified soybean varieties, European Patent No. 301,749.

Broken Promise? Monsanto Promotes Terminator Seed Technology

At its annual meeting on Thursday, April 24th 2003, Monsanto's top brass will greet shareholders with a dismal financial report, (a 15% drop in annual sales - $4.7 billion in 2002, down from $5.5 billion in 2001) and a shareholder resolution that urges the company to re-think the safety of genetically engineered seeds - now the company's flagship product. But there's potentially more troubling news - a little known position paper that could rattle shareholders, irk investors and erode public confidence still further in the biotech behemoth: Despite its 1999 pledge not to commercialize Terminator technology, Monsanto has recently adopted a positive stance on genetic seed sterilization, a technology that has been condemned by civil society and some governments as an immoral application of genetic engineering.

El tamaño sí importa

Nueva información provee mayor evidencia para implementar una moratoria sobre las nano partículas sintéticas: Grupo ETC

Nueva evidencia de los riesgos de las nano partículas El Grupo ETC publicó el 14 de abril 2003 un nuevo documento de la serie Occasional Papers, con el título "Size Matters! No small matter II: The Case for a Global Moratorioum." El informe llama a los gobiernos a adoptar una moratoria sobre los nano materiales sintéticos que se están fabricando en los laboratorios y en algunos casos ya se están comercializando, ante la ausencia de pruebas sobre su inocuidad para la salud, la seguridad y sus impactos ambientales.

Size Matters!

ETC Group: New information provides more evidence for mandatory moratorium on synthetic nanoparticles

The ETC Group today (14.04.2003) releases a new Occasional Paper, "No Small Matter II: The Case for a Global Moratorium - Size Matters!" The report calls on governments to adopt a moratorium on synthetic nanomaterials that are being manufactured in the laboratory and in some cases commercialized, in the absence of testing for health, safety and environmental impacts.

"Even though industry is scaling up the manufacture of nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes there appear to be no government regulations in Europe or North America to ensure the safety of workers or consumers," says Kathy Jo Wetter, ETC Group researcher. "A few national governments are beginning to consider some aspects of nanotech regulation but no government is giving full consideration to the socioeconomic, environmental, and health implications of this powerful new industry," notes Wetter. The ETC Group reports that nanoparticles are already available to consumers in sunscreens (including some intended for children, from infancy onwards) and cosmetics, among other products. However, regulators do not test nano-sized materials for health, safety and environmental impacts if their macro- or micro-sized counterparts have already been approved.

The Big Down

Technologies Converging at the Nano-scale

The ETC Group (formerly known as RAFI) announces the publication of The Big Down: Atomtech — Technologies Converging at the Nano-scale, the first comprehensive and critical analysis of nanotechnology for civil society and policymakers. The 80-page report seeks to widen civil society’s and policymakers’ focus beyond biotech and genetically engineered crops, and to catalyze widespread public debate on the societal impacts of nanotechnology.

Cuando el maíz se podía comer

Ultimamente coincido con las multinacionales del agronegocio en que no es correcto llamarle comida Frankenstein a los transgénicos. Después de todo, el engendro del doctor Frankenstein no le hizo nada a nadie, mientras que las nuevas generaciones de transgénicos podrían intoxicarnos a todos. ¿Exagerado? Ojalá así fuera. Juzgue usted mismo.

En Estados Unidos se vienen realizado desde 1991 más de 300 experimentos secretos -pero legales- en granjas que utilizan cultivos agrícolas para producir químicos industriales y fármacos en plantas transgénicas, sin que los vecinos ni el público tengan conocimiento de éstos ni del riesgo que corren. Se está utilizando maíz, soya, arroz, alfalfa, tomate, tabaco y otros. El cultivo preferido, usado en 70 por ciento de los experimentos, es el maíz. Las sustancias producidas son, entre otras, vacunas veterinarias y de uso humano, anticuerpos, abortivos, espermicidas, plásticos y adhesivos. Según la industria, esto ahorra mano de obra y, en general, es más barato.

Los Estados Unidos y La Ley de la Semilla

¿De cara a la política, o política de doble cara?

El primero de noviembre 2002, el embajador de los Estados Unidos ante la Organización de lasNaciones Unidas para la Alimentación y la Agricultura (FAO), anunció lo que parece un arrepentimiento de la política de su gobierno y firmó formalmente el Tratado Internacional sobre Recursos Fitogenéticos. Este no es un cambio de política, solo un cambio de estrategia. Como pasó con el Convenio sobre Diversidad Biológica hace una década, los Estados Unidos "firmarán", pero nunca "ratificarán" la Ley de la Semilla.

The United States and The Law of the Seed

Political "About Face" or "Two-Faced" Policy?

On November 1st 2002, the new U.S. ambassador to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced what appeared to be a reversal of his government's policy and formally signed the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. This is not a change of policy - just a change of strategy. As with the Biodiversity Convention a decade ago, the United States will "sign" but never "ratify" the Law of the Seed.

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