Genetic Engineering & Biopiracy Essay

Hassibullah Roshan December 10, 2013 In “Piracy Through Patents,” Vandana Shiva challenges the safety of genetically modified seeds, and discusses that patents are a replay of colonialism, which is now known as the globalization and free trade. She traces the progression from the European colonization of “native people” to the present allotment of the natural resources that they need for their physical and cultural survival.

The intellectual property rights laws of the GATT set the stage for foreign corporations to secure an absolute monopoly control of our food production by supplanting customary seed varieties with patented hybrids. The notion behind “new colonies” not only erodes the diversity of heterogeneity species and cultural practices, but also contaminates and impounds the environment as whole. By manipulating an organism using advanced technology, genetic engineering designs products or “seeds”.

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On the basis of (‘PR) Intellectual Property Right, farmers, who use the “designed” products without the consent of the patent holder, are deemed criminals. Though the engineers “treat the tools of genetic engineering as the yardstick of improvement”, the seeds are not genetic-engineered to produce more nutrients, but to empower the corporations to ake decisions on behalf of farmers at the first stage, and consumers thereafter. Their decisions consequently result in the production of toxic foods and selling them at a high level “global” market price.

Additionally, genetic engineering promotes “uniformity’ and “homogenization” which serve as the critical elements in the strengthening of globalization. In globalization, as Shiva argues, nature is seen as something to be tamed and used for human exploitation, control and domination. On the one hand, globalization represents the burden of one culture striving to homogenize the rest and on the other hand, onocultures and homogenization lead to a direct connection with violence in terms of ecology and society.

Shiva associates monocultures with political-violence through the use of control and centralization, which drives people from various ethnic groups to cling to their own ethnicities and find the opposite group harmful. As Shiva writes, “Markings of diversity become cracks of fragmentation; diversity then becomes the justification for violence and war. ” Hence, monocultures are instable, vulnerable, and unsustainable to ecological breakdown. She proposes cultivation of diversity as a oundation for peace; and a movement to save seeds, protect biodiversity, reclaim farmers’ rights, and to make patents on seed illegal.

These are, thus, peaceful approaches and responses to the violence created by globalization, homogenization and monocultures. As Vandana Shiva mentions in her piece, “Sustainability is ecologically linked to diversity, which offers the self-regulation and a multiplicity of interactions that can heal ecological disturbance to any part of a system. ” Next Industrial Revolution”, highlight the reduction of diversity and dynamism of forests, air, rivers, soil and animals since the commencement of the Industrial Revolution.

They argue about eco-effciency versus eco-effectiveness; eco-effciency being the current industrial flaw tending to solve environmental problems but instead only slowing down the process of contamination and depletion rather than eliminating it entirely. And eco-effectiveness being a concept which totally eliminates the foregoing problems and the linear “cradle-to-grave” flow. A regenerative industry by design, which incorporates interdependence with other living organisms and in which waste can be used as nutrition compared to eco-efficiencys design of waste to be discarded.

They argue that the manufacturing of industrial products lead to the accumulation of increased waste, contamination of the environment and production of toxic substances. McDonough views such side-effects as “a very big design problem” and therefore, in an agreement with Braungart, proposes the “closed-loop industrial cycle” that will help design products and produce goods that are not only beneficial but also provide both biological and technical nutrients.

They anticipate having products with a life cycle that will not lead to “cradle-to-grave” but into a “cradle-to-cradle” lifespan which inevitably correlates to their idea of “waste equals ood”. McDonough goes on to mention, “If people are to prosper within the natural world, all the products and materials manufactured by the industry must after each useful life provide nourishment for something new. Since many of the things people make are not natural, they are not safe ‘safe food’ for biological systems. Furthermore, products made using nature’s cycle would result in the return of biological nutrients to the natural cycle. Quite similar to a tree, products designed out of non-toxic materials would be consumed by microorganisms or eaten by other creatures in the soil. McDonough argues that, “Most packaging should be composed of biological nutrient materials that can be tossed onto the ground or the compost heap to biodegrade. ” On the other hand, numerous technical machines and/or gadgets are composed of hundreds of toxic chemicals.

Disposing off and dumping in such items to the ground will result in disseminating these chemicals that are extremely perilous to the environment and more importantly, to humans. Through the closed-loop industrial cycle, such items maintain and preserve their quality, and will be designed to go back into the technical cycle. As per the authors, eco- effectiveness is the solution for eco-efficiency which removes the disastrous effects on biological and eco-systems through the industry.

It solves both environmental and economic problems by reflecting the needs of producers and consumers on the basis of which designs must be affordable, safe, smart and accessible to a wide range of customers and at the same time, profitable to the manufacturers. In contrast to Shiva, McDonough and Braungart, Edwardo Kac in “GFP Bunny’ puts forward quite an exceptional usage and manipulation of genetic engineering to ransfer natural genes to an organism, and to form living beings.

In his piece, we are introduced to the ongoing dialogue between professionals of several disciplines such as art, science, philosophy, law, communications, literature, and social sciences, and us with the contestation of the alleged supremacy of DNA in life creation in favor of a more complex understanding of the intertwined relationship between genetics, organism, and environment. He further extends the concepts of biodiversity and evolution and how it incorporates with his precise work at a more genomic level. It hows the interspecies communication, in a social and interactive context between humans and a transgenic mammal.

Through his transgenic art, Kac, in a way, promoted awareness and respect for the spiritual or mental life of the transgenic animal. His experiment, which gives emphasis to the social existence of organism and the evolutionary continuum, introduces one to a new prospect that offers vagueness where we usually only find affirmative and negative differences. Upon coming to the public, Alba, the bunny, showed that successful experiments do not always occur in research laboratories. Alba did not only acquire admiration for the transgenic animals’ emotional life, but also extended the contemporary practical parameters of art-making.

In his piece, Kac writes, “What is important is the completely integrated process of creating the bunny, bringing her to society at large, and providing her with a loving, caring and nurturing environment in which she can grow safe and healthy. ” Moreover, some genetic engineers maneuver this technology to their own advantage by patenting seeds and products, and several scientists might design products that lead to a “cradle-to-grave” cycle, but he views this knowledge of enetic therapy by humans exceptionally valuable.

This knowledge, according to him, can be used to enhance the living styles of humans. Similar to Shiva, he also believes that the misuse and misappropriation of genetic engineering by corporations, and employing rhetorical strategies to influence the public increase the dread of its banalization. This is further explained by him in section “TRANSGENES’S, ART, AND SOCIETY where he states, “There are indeed serious threats, such as the possible loss of privacy regarding one’s own genetic information, and unacceptable practices already underway, such as biopiracy.


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