No to patenting of life

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Fri Nov 19 08:24:33 MST 1999

The below should be:

>> The evidence of the anti-human character of bourgeois systematic theory and
>practice IS SUFFICIENT to form a philosophical and cross-cultural life science united
>front with the Indigenous peoples against patenting of life.

and I add the united front I speak of is between original and modern communists.


> "Charles Brown" <> 11/19/99 09:40AM >>>
 The evidence of the anti-human character of bourgeois systematic theory and practice
to form a philosophical and cross-cultural life science united front with the
Indigenous peoples against patenting of life.


>>> "E.C.Apling" <E.C.Apling at> 11/18/99 05:06PM >>>
In one sense I have sympathy with this statement - on the basis of a general
opposition to monopoly rights.

However, the distinction between the biological and the chemical is a
mystification - ALL are part of nature - and at least the domesticated part
of the biological field (domesticated animals, agricultural plants etc etc)
DO show the "hand of man" over millenia.  No-one would dispute the hand of
man in the Imperial Crown or the Golden Gate Bridge - but they, too, are
part of nature; the gold and iron in them was certainly not created by man
any more than the carbon, nitrogen etc in living things - but the use-value
in them was just as certainly man-made as the use-value of the finest
milk-yielding cow or bread-making wheat variety.

Patents in no way create ownership - what they do is create a strictly
time-limited monopoly in the commercialisation or sale of the given
"invention", and as such play an important role in the financing of research
and development giving a period of years in which the costs of research can
be recouped.

There can be arguments for and against the patent system as it presently
operates, but appeals to the sacred, are not part of any rational argument.

Mailto:E.C.Apling at

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Marxism and Sciences
> Brown
> Sent: 09 November 1999 21:41
> Subject: No to patenting of life
> No to patenting of life
> The following is the Indigenous Peoples' Statement on the
> trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights of the WTO
> agreement:
> We indigenous peoples from around the world believe that nobody
> can own what exists in nature except nature herself. A human
> being cannot own its own mother. Humankind is part of Mother
> Nature, we have created nothing, and so we can in no way claim to
> be owners of what does not belong to us. But time and again,
> Western legal property regimes have been imposed on us,
> contradicting our own cosmologies and values.
> We view with regret and anxiety how Article 27.3b of the
> Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of
> the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements will further
> denigrate and undermine our rights to our cultural and
> intellectual heritage, our plant, animal, and even human genetic
> resources, and discriminate against our indigenous ways of
> thinking and behaving.
> This Article makes an artificial distinction between plants,
> animals and microorganisms, and between essentially biological
> and microbiological processes for making plants and animals. As
> far as we are concerned all these are life forms and
> life-creating processes which are sacred, and which should not
> become the subject of proprietary ownership.
> We know that intellectual property rights as defined in the TRIPS
> Agreement are monopoly rights given to individual or legal
> persons (e.g., transnational corporations) who can prove that the
> inventions or innovations they made are novel, involve an
> innovative step and are capable of industrial application.
> The application of this form of property rights over living
> things as if they are mechanical or industrial inventions is
> inappropriate. Indigenous knowledge and cultural heritage are
> collectively and accretionally evolved through generations. Thus,
> no single person can claim invention or discovery of medicinal
> plants, seeds or other living things.
> The inherent conflict between these two knowledge systems and the
> manner in which they are protected and used will cause further
> disintegration of our communal values and practices. It can also
> lead to infighting between indigenous communities over who has
> ownership over a particular knowledge or innovation. Furthermore,
> it goes against the very essence of indigenous spirituality,
> which regards all creation as sacred.
> We are aware of the various implications of the TRIPS Agreement
> on our lives as indigenous peoples. It will lead to the
> appropriation of our traditional medicinal plants and seeds and
> our indigenous knowledge on health, agriculture and biodiversity
> conservation. It will undermine food security, since the
> diversity and agricultural production on which our communities
> depend would be eroded and would be controlled by individual,
> private and foreign interests.
> In addition, the agreement will substantially weaken our access
> to and control over genetic and biological resources; plunder our
> resources and territories; and contribute to the deterioration of
> our quality of life.
> In the review of the Article 27.3b of the TRIPS Agreement,
> therefore, our proposals are as follows:
> This article should be amended to disallow categorically the
> patenting of life forms. It should clearly prohibit the patenting
> of plants and animals, including all their parts, meaning, genes,
> gene sequences, cells, proteins, seeds, etc. It should also
> prohibit the patenting of natural processes involving the use of
> plants, animals and other living organisms, and their parts and
> processes used in producing variations of plants, animals, and
> micro-organisms.
> The provision for the protection of plant varieties by either a
> patent, a sui generis system, or a combination of both should
> amended and elaborated further: It should:
> Disallow the use of patents to protect plant varieties.
> Ensure that the sui generis system, which may be created, will
> protect the knowledge and innovations and practices in farming,
> agriculture, health and medical care, and conservation of
> biodiversity of indigenous peoples and farmers.
> Build upon the indigenous methods and customary laws protecting
> knowledge and heritage and biological resources.
> Ensure that the protection offered to the indigenous and
> traditional innovation, knowledge, and practices are consistent
> with the Convention of Biological Diversity and the International
> Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources.
> Allow for indigenous peoples and farmers to continue their
> traditional practices of saving, sharing and exchanging seeds; of
> harvesting, cultivating and using medicinal plants;
> Prevent the appropriation and theft of indigenous seeds,
> medicinal plants, and the knowledge around the use of these by
> researchers, academic institutions, corporations, etc.
> Integrate the principle and practice of prior informed consent,
> which means that the consent of indigenous peoples* as
> communities or as collectivities, should be obtained before any
> research or collection of plants will be undertaken. The right of
> indigenous peoples to veto any bioprospecting activity should be
> guaranteed. Mechanisms to enforce prior informed consent should
> be installed.
> Prevent the destruction and conversion of indigenous peoples'
> lands, which are rich in biodiversity through projects like
> mines, monocrop commercial plantations, dams, etc. and recognize
> the rights of indigenous peoples to these lands.
> We urge the WTO Member-States to put the amendment of the TRIPS
> Agreement as a priority item in agenda of the forthcoming WTO
> Ministerial Conference in Seattle. In its present form the
> agreement will have devastating social and environmental
> consequences which will be irreversible. It is an imperative,
> therefore, that this agreement be amended to prohibit the
> patenting of life forms and the piracy of indigenous peoples'
> knowledge and resources.
> We also call on all the WTO Member-States to work for the
> extension of the deadline of the implementation of Article 27.3b
> of TRIPS to the year 2006, five years after the completion of the
> review of this has been done.
> Finally, we reiterate our commitment to sustain our struggle to
> have our rights to our intellectual and cultural heritage and our
> lands and resources promoted and protected. We call on the WTO to
> become an instrument in promoting our rights instead of enacting
> and imposing agreements which are violative or undermining our
> rights as distinct peoples.
> - Signed at the United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, on July 25,
> l999 by 87 indigenous peoples organizations, non-governmental
> organizations and networks

More information about the Marxism mailing list