Empty Life – Vandana Shiva on the plunder blunder

It seems that the Western powers are still driven by the colonizing impulse to discover, conquer, own, and possess everything, every society, every culture. The colonies have now been extended to the interior spaces, the “genetic codes” of life-forms from microbes and plants to animals, including humans.

John Moore, a cancer patient, had his cell lines patented by his own doctor. In 1996, Myriad Pharmaceuticals, a U.S.-based company, patented the breast cancer gene in women in order to get a monopoly on diagnostics and testing. The cell lines of the Hagahai of Papua New Guinea and the Guami of Panama are patented by the U.S. commerce secretary.

The natural development and exchange of knowledge has, in effect, been criminalized by the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, which became U.S. law on September 17 and empowers U.S. intelligence agencies to investigate the ordinary activities of people worldwide. The act considers the intellectual property rights of U.S. corporations as vital to national security.

The assumption of empty lands, terra nullius, is now being expanded to “empty life”: seeds and medicinal plants.

– Vandana Shiva, Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature & Knowledge, 1999