Corporate control of genetic material

Monopolistic control of new animal forms
Irresponsible patenting of genetically transformed animals
Commercial control of new life forms
Irresponsible patenting of organisms
Unethical patenting of transgenic animals
Because biotechnology has become increasingly controlled by large pharmaceutical, chemical and food corporations, whose ability to research and obtain patents dominates the industrialized world, many small organizations and individuals may lose a great amount of money through royalty payments. Patents on genetically manipulated plants and animals may first affect farmers, as they may be required to pay royalties to patent holding companies and may be barred from owning offspring of genetically manipulated livestock. Such expense for farmers will undoubtedly be inherited by consumers.

The majority of genetic raw material used in western laboratories is obtained from crops and wild plants in undeveloped countries, whose farmers typically reap no reward from the financial gains made by western corporations in their genetic patents.

In the early 1970s foreign DNA was first successfully implanted into a host microorganism. This achievement was a primary step towards the knowledge that life could be genetically "created" by human beings. In 1988, Victor, a dormouse implanted with a human cancer-producing gene which made him more valuable for medical research, was the subject of a patent granted to European and North American researchers by the USA Supreme Court. Victor was the world's first patented animal. By 1991, a group of US scientists awaited approval of their request for the patenting of the nematode worm, an agriculturally vital species in the elimination of crop parasites. The nematode worm, unlike Victor the dormouse and his offspring, exists in nature without genetic manipulation by man. Those opposed to the pending patent of the nematode worm suggest immorality in human claim to nature.
A 1991 study estimates royalty payments on patented plants and animals may near $50 million in the UK, and even more in southern Europe if legislation proves increasingly lenient in the granting of such patents.

Indigenous knowledge of plants and their patterns of use assisted colonial botanists in South Africa to identify species of commercial potential, the benefits of which were reaped solely by foreign companies. There is currently substantial interest from foreign companies in the genetic resources of South Africa, and firm evidence that sampling guided by traditional knowledge substantially increases the efficiency of screening plants for medicinal treatments. However, there is no legal protection in South Africa for traditional knowledge, which is often not confined to a single community or person. Furthermore, conventional intellectual property right regimes do not correspond well to the innovations of traditional cultures.

1. Patenting an animal, no matter the size or level of "importance" to man, is the patenting of life itself. Commercialization of nature is morally bankrupt, and only promotes corporate power over public interest. Perhaps the next step is to patent human beings.

2. The patenting of life forms and seeds by transnational corporations (TNCs) will also rob local communities of their traditional knowledge and tremendously increase prices of food, medicine and other essentials.

3. Today, tribal and rural women and men conserve and improve biodiversity for public and commercial good at personal cost. No further time should be lost in ending the present unethical situation where such primary conservers live in poverty, while those who utilise their knowledge and the products of their in-situ on-farm conservation culture become prosperous.

The patenting of lower life-forms promotes the amelioration of natural and human existence. Although genetic patents have come to represent only that which is commercial, their true purpose is protection of the integrity of medical and agricultural research.
(E) Emanations of other problems