Ægte pirater – multinationale tager patent på planter, folk har brugt i årtusinder

… som Cory Doctorow skriver på Boing Boing:

if you want to see what real piracy looks like, look at the bio-pirates, people and corporations who receive patents on common life-forms from the developing world (abetted by the sleepy and lackadaisical US Patent and Trademark Office) and then use their might and muscle to tax people for growing, consuming and exporting the plants they’ve lived with for centuries, on the grounds that these plants are now some rich person’s property.

One such injustice is finally drawing to a close. US Patent Number 5,894,079, belonging Colorado’s Larry Proctor, has been struck down. Proctor brought home some yellow beans from a Mexican market and filed for a patent on them in the 1990s, neglecting to tell the USPTO that the beans had been a dietary staple in latinamerica for over a century.

Proctor called them “Enola beans” and began to receive a toll on every Enola bean imported into the US from latinamerica. He used this money to fund a series of defenses to challenges on his patent. Because the patent system continues to enforce challenged patents while the gears of litigation turn, for every year that went by, Proctor found himself richer and better-able to fund his defense, while the people who had grown and eaten the beans for a century got poorer.

Proctor still has the right to appeal his patent up to the Supreme Court, of course.

CIAT officials said that, while they were concerned about the immediate economic impact of the Enola patent, more broadly, they worried that the patent would establish a precedent threatening public access to plant germplasm-the genetic material that comprises the inherited qualities of an organism-held in trust by CIAT and research centers worldwide. The CIAT genebank is one of 11 maintained worldwide by the CGIAR, where crop materials such as seeds, stems and tubers are held in trust with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The genebanks house a total of about 600,000 plant varieties in publicly accessible collections, which are viewed as the pillar of global efforts to conserve agriculture biodiversity and maintain global food security. Plant breeders in both the public and private sectors are constantly seeking access to these resources to help them breed new types of crop varieties, particularly when existing varieties are threatened by pests or disease.

Link: US Patent Office rejects US company’s patent protection for bean commonly grown by Latin American farmers‘ (via Boing Boing)

Genoa – syv år efter

Såret demonstrant, Genoa 2001

The Guardian har en glimrende og noget foruroligende gennemgang af forløbet i forbindelse med politiets amokløb under G8-topmødet i Genoa i 2001:

It was just before midnight when the first police officer hit Mark Covell, swiping his truncheon down on his left shoulder. Covell did his best to yell out in Italian that he was a journalist but, within seconds, he was surrounded by riot-squad officers thrashing him with their sticks… It was at that moment that a police officer sauntered over to him and kicked him in the chest with such force that the entire lefthand side of his rib cage caved in, breaking half-a-dozen ribs whose splintered ends then shredded the membrane of his left lung. Covell, who is 5ft 8in and weighs less than eight stone, was lifted off the pavement and sent flying into the street. He heard the policeman laugh.

There are several good reasons why we should not forget what happened to Covell, then aged 33, that night in Genoa. The first is that he was only the beginning. The second is that, seven years later, Covell and his fellow victims are still waiting for justice…

…  they dragged Zuhlke into the ground-floor hall, where they had gathered dozens of prisoners from all over the building in a mess of blood and excrement. They threw her on top of two other people. They were not moving, and Zuhlke drowsily asked them if they were alive. They did not reply, and she lay there on her back, unable to move her right arm, unable to stop her left arm and her legs twitching, blood seeping out of her head wounds. A group of police officers walked by, and each one lifted the bandana which concealed his identity, leaned down and spat on her face.

The signs of something uglier here were apparent first in superficial ways. Some officers had traditional fascist songs as ringtones on their mobile phones and talked enthusiastically about Mussolini and Pinochet. Repeatedly, they ordered prisoners to say “Viva il duce.” Sometimes, they used threats to force them to sing fascist songs: “Un, due, tre. Viva Pinochet!”

Fascistisk infiltration af politiet – var det derfor, det gik så galt? Nick Davies antyder i artiklen, at det kan være endnu værre, at laden-stå-til overfor sådanne metoder fra politiets side kan være en bevidst taktik fra politikere, der føler sig under pres – som for eksempel, G8-landenes ledere og de italienske politikere, der var ansvarlige for topmødets afvikling uden pinlige demonstranter til at gøre opmærksom på fattigdom og ulighed i den globaliserede verden:

Fifty-two days after the attack on the Diaz school, 19 men used planes full of passengers as flying bombs and shifted the bedrock of assumptions on which western democracies had based their business. Since then, politicians who would never describe themselves as fascists have allowed the mass tapping of telephones and monitoring of emails, detention without trial, systematic torture, the calibrated drowning of detainees, unlimited house arrest and the targeted killing of suspects, while the procedure of extradition has been replaced by “extraordinary rendition”. This isn’t fascism with jack-booted dictators with foam on their lips. It’s the pragmatism of nicely turned-out politicians. But the result looks very similar. Genoa tells us that when the state feels threatened, the rule of law can be suspended. Anywhere.

Go read.