this is a lost page from my second website Matt King's Unbelievable Hype.
At the J18 demo in London there was a fake version of the Evening Standard being handed out.
I must have transcribed this article but I never put it online
LONDON, FRIDAY 18 JUNE 1999
The Final Act Of Enclosure
One cold winter morning in 1997 Lord Simon, Minister for Competitiveness, awoke to find bio-activists in white coats in the back-garden of his Islington residence collecting samples of his pot plants and tagging his petunias with bar-codes. This was the day that Lord Simon was travelling to Europe to sign a directive allowing the caring, compassionate biotech companies to patent plant strains with engineered genes - of course for the 'good of mankind'. This was a huge leap in the concept of patents. No longer did companies or entrepeneurs have to invent something to patent; under the new concept, pioneered by the US and forced on the rest of the world by the WTO(World Trade Organisation), engineered strains of plants and animals could be converted to private property rights. Almost overnight life became an 'invention', a commodity, a product.Extravagant claims spin their way through the corridors of the biotech industry and, amplified by large sums of PR money, out into the public domain. On the other side the financially challenged NGO's and direct activists scrape together their resources and challenge the biotech giants head-on.But on the ground are farmers, who depend on strains of plants that have been gradually and painstakingly selected over about 10,000 years. The focus of the biotech giant's attention; the 'Third' (and majority) World. India for example, is home to some of the greatest genetic diversity in the world, much of which is found in their valuable crops as rice.Basmati is the champagne of rice varieties. It's distinctive aromatic flavour makes it a favourite in the US, Europe and the Middle East, netting India USDOLLARS 280 million in 1996-1997 and employing around a quarter of a million farmers. In september 1997 Rice Tec Inc ( a US based multinational) was granted a patent on Basmati "rice lines and to plants and grains". Their claim stemmed from a genetically altered strain. However it could ultimately extend to all strains of basmati rice producing the ridiculous scenario where basmati growers could violate Rice Tec's patent merely by continuing their traditional farming of rice.In India, unlike in the US, patents on life are not allowed. However, under the WTO's trade related property rights regime (TRIPs) all signatories are due to unify patent laws this year - consolidating corporate (and Western) control over the genetic diversity of the world. Under so much pressure from the public one woders why the UK government is so keen to support the biotech irms in their race to gain control and intellectual ownership of the world's food supply. Perhaps the Minister of Agriculture, Jack cunningham's words on the recent BBC Panorama programme hands us a clue. As he sat in the spotlight justifying the use of Genetically Modified Organisms, repeating industry rhetoric he eventually hit in the key: GMO's are good for the British Economy. In short the share prices of Zeneca ( a British based biotech firm) are more important to our repreentatives in the government than the will of the people.This is part of a wider process that has been taking place for centuries, from the enclosure of common land in England in the 18th century, to the claims now being made by corporations. From the local to the global, things that once belonged to all of us are being transformed into exclusive private property. Today a few powerful institutions are, in some sectors, virtually eliminating small business and securing all trade for themselves, turning public streets into guarded shopping malls, and life itself into a profit-making venture. Matt King's Unbelievable Hype
The J18 Homepage
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