Gene Wars: The Politics of Biotechnology (Open Media Series)

Gene Wars: The Politics of Biotechnology (Open Media Series)

Kristin Dawkins

Language: English

Pages: 88


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Despite technological advances, an alarming number of people in the world go hungry. Even more chilling is the fact that in the future that number will likely increase. In this book, Kristin Dawkins discusses the international policies that are shaping this future, including those that govern the genetic engineering of plants. Dawkins shows how a diversified gene pool is crucial to food production - and how corporate control of the gene pool threatens our collective security.
Behind these issues lies the specter of globalization - transnational corporations freely exploiting the resources and consumers of the world while political power shifts to remote international institutions strictly dedicated to commerce. Dawkins challenges those in power to develop global systems of political discourse in the public interest and shows how each one of us can make a difference.

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StarLink—a variety of Bt corn not approved for human consumption that was nonetheless commingled with the rest of the corn supply, seed dealers announced the next year that virtually all of their corn seed stock was contaminated with StarLink DNA. Similarly, a few years back the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued voluntary guidelines to farmers recommending that 5% of their corn crop be planted in non–genetically engineered seeds, so insects would have a “refuge” where they could

such a population outbreak with insecticides is like pouring kerosene on a house fire.” Over the years, well over 4,000 Filipino rice farmers have died of pesticide poisoning, two thirds of the Philippines’ rice paddies are now chemically degraded, and even the much-touted high yields are now in decline. Similar reports of little mentioned side effects of the Green Revolution come in from elsewhere. In Zimbabwe some years back, the World Bank encouraged the government to give peasants hybrid

chemicals can support fish production, and a variety of vegetables and greens that yield significantly greater caloric value than a monoculture, and a more nutritionally balanced harvest. Biotech proponents now champion a new Miracle Rice: a variety genetically engineered with daffodil genes as the solution to vitamin A deficiencies in much of Asia and Africa. To be sure, the blindness caused by a lack of vitamin A is a tragic scourge that should be corrected immediately. But most desperately

undercapitalized and poorly maintained. These refrigerated warehouses, also called seed banks, are maintained by most countries for the long-term storage of a wide selection of seed varieties. There is also an international system of 16 linked gene banks coordinated by an intergovernmental body called the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Generally, all of these national and international gene banks make their stocks of germ plasm freely available for ongoing

extended periods of time, usually 17 to 20 years but sometimes more. Different countries have different IPR laws, each one a balance between industry’s desire to capitalize on its investments in technological development and the rights of society to benefit from its intellectual and financial contributions to industry. In other words, when geniuses like Thomas Edison or the fellow who invented the safety pin spend years of unpaid work in their attics and basements developing something of use to

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