Criticisms of Corporate Capitalism Too much power Not enough public oversight Short-term profit orientation Insufficient loyalty to traditional local communities Willingness to engage in questionable practices: Industrial espionage, pretexting Advertising unhealthy products, espec. to children Corporate responsibility PR as cover for unethical activities
What’s Wrong with Corporate Food? Favor monoculture forms of agriculture which undermines biodiversity Favor “high-priced, high-margin luxury items – flowers, potted plants, beef, shrimp, cotton, coffee – for export to already overfed countries” Favor “machine-intensive production” also called factory farms
Ruth Ozeki Two great books: All Over Creation (2004) and My Year of Meats (1999) Web site: http://ruthozeki.com Basic premise of All Over Creation: struggle over factory potato farms in Idaho Intro of genetically modified potatoes Purpose to reduce overuse of fertilizers and pesticides “The terminator” – genetic modification to prevent farmer sales of seeds of new organisms
Michael Pollan The Botany of Desire (2002) The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2007) In Defense of Food (2009) Food Rules (2009) On the Daily Show
The Slow Food Movement Carlo Petrini McDonald’s at the Spanish Steps in Rome Global movement with local chapters called Convivia Video about Slow Food in Toronto
Diversity Biodiversity Economic Diversity Cultural Diversity Need to ask whether the preservation of economic and cultural diversity has the same moral/political standing as the preservation of biodiversity.
Threats to the Genetic Commons “…now subject to reinvention through genetic engineering and transformed into patentable commodities.” Who benefits from stricter intellectual property protection for new organisms? Monsanto Novartis Dupont Pioneer Source: Alternatives to Globalization, pp. 113-114
Bio-Prospecting “Pharmaceutical companies are especially eager for access and the rights to patent genetic material. Their representatives travel the globe, exploring traditional native remedies in jungles and fields. They also extract blood and scrape “buccal mucosa” from skins of native peoples wherever they can, hoping to find genes that contain natural resistance to certain maladies.” The rosy periwinkle which grows in Madagascar Is used to treat diabetes and cancer.
Old Bio-Prospecting: The Case of OrchidHunters These adventurous men would often risk their lives to earn the huge sums of money that were on offer. In their quest they had to cope with tropical diseases, swarms of insects, venomous snakes, giant spiders, wild animals, hostile tribesmen and floods. In addition, they had to contend with competition from other hunters, corruption, intrigue, spying and probably murder, too. Whoever managed to survive these perils and bring the plants back safely to Europe Source: soon became rich and also honored, as the orchids were often named after http://www.maljonicsdreams.com/orc the finder.
The New Bio-Prospecting: TheCase of Thermus aquaticus 1966 discovery of microorganisms living in Yellowstone’s hot springs 1985 Cetus Corporation discovers new way to duplicate genetic material via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) PCR required high temperatures that often destroyed the enzymes created A high-temperature tolerant enzyme was isolated from Thermus aquaticus and added to PCR to make it work better Source: http://www.nature.nps.gov/benefitssharing/whatis.cfm
Can the New Bio-Prospecting Help to PreserveGlobal Cultural and Bio-diversity? Makes indigenous peoples stakeholders in the new bio-sciences Own the land where new organisms are found Invented the folk medicines that may become patentable pharmaceuticals via bio-prospecting Gives the ethnic communities in rain forests and other remote locations a potential new source of income/wealth and an incentive to manage natural resources wisely
The Precautionary Principle “When there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental damage.” (Alternatives to Globalization, p. 101) The original source is the Declaration of Rio signed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.