and The
New World Order
by Liz Sheridan,
UK Correspondent

In our postmodern, North-South
economically divided w...
The WTO was inaugurated in 1995. or government grants - effectively
Wi t h i n t e r n a t i o n a l h e a d q u a r t e r...
In the past five decades the world’s
traditional organic agricultural
systems were supposedly ‘upgraded’,
but really they ...
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Biopiracy and the News World Order, by Liz Sheridan. April 2001. with emphasis the case of Shiseido biopirating the Indonesian native herbs.


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Biopiracy and the News World Order, by Liz Sheridan. April 2001. with emphasis the case of Shiseido biopirating the Indonesian native herbs.

  1. 1. BIOPIRACY and The New World Order by Liz Sheridan, UK Correspondent In our postmodern, North-South economically divided world, treasures still exist. Since ancient times, Indonesian emperors employed traditional Jamu herbs prescribed by herbal doctors to maintain good health radiance, a youthful appearance, libido and vigour. Jamu, comprising over a thousand formulas, remained the sole property of the Royal Court until modern times, when it was finally released for public sale. 1 says Mr Tjahjadi who is lobbying for protective and preventative legislation and insists, “We would like to educate our farmers about their rights, and their ownership rights of their traditional crops. We call farmers’ crops our ‘traditional seeds’, we say these are ‘community intellectual rights’ ... and we would like to have protection for our property against such biopiracy.” Fact is that the world’s small farmers and poorest, most populous nations Now Jamu is under threat ... and Pesticide Action Network 2 researcher, Riza Tjahjadi explains that the Shiseido Corporation of Japan, 3 cosmetic and skincare Transnational Corporation (TNC) has patented 11 traditional Jamu healing herbs. Since 1999 they are double-patented in both Japan and Europe, reports Mr Tjahjadi. It is not the herbs themselves that have been patented but chemical compounds within the herbs, rare compounds unique to traditional Jamu which effect skin-whitening, hair restoration and skin rejuvenation. Every time shoppers purchase skinwhitening products from Shiseido’s ‘UV White Range’, or the SkinWhitening Formula priced at circa $150 for a 50ml pot, we are unwittingly supporting Shiseido’s corporate theft. “This biopiracy by Shiseido means they’ve stolen what belonged to our traditional healers, stolen our farmers knowledge, their seeds and systems,” Mr Riza Tjahjadi, Pesticide Action Network Researcher don’t have the mega-buck muscle to pay for patent rights. Probably they never felt compelled to patent indigenous varieties. Small farmers such as Jamu herb growers in Indonesia are ‘stewards of the earth’ and believe they own the seeds and plants anyway. The last thing such a small farmer would choose, would be to prove that seeds and agricultural systems inherited down the generations are his intellectual property. In the light of all the patenting and bureaucratic jargon we must ask, why has protecting our farmers’ traditional ‘intellectual property rights’ (IPRs) become so controversial? Controversy currently surrounds all traditional ownership because ordinary people have become players in a global biotech battle. The stakes are very high, indeed the prize is our natural heritage thinly disguised as a genetic commodity b y T N C s a n d t h e Wo r l d Tr a d e Organisation (WTO). Mr Tjahjadi is in good company, his grievances are the same as those that fuelled the Seattle protest when 40,000 people rallied against WTO policies in 1999. In Prague last year 15,000 protesters a g a i n m a r c h e d a g a i n s t W TO policies. 4 The WTO is targeted because of the sinister role it plays in assisting the TNCs to steal with impunity. However, protesters fear it could soon be too late for direct ‹ action ... Apr ‘01 • Healthy Options 31
  2. 2. The WTO was inaugurated in 1995. or government grants - effectively Wi t h i n t e r n a t i o n a l h e a d q u a r t e r s taxpayers subsidise the unelected in Geneva, Switzerland and a staff ‘shadow’ world government, the NWO. of 550, they ‘administer and enforce Many business networks exist within more than 20 international agreements, the NWO infrastructure, such as those resolve trade disputes between states that legitimise the theft and a n d p r o v i d e a f o r u m f o r g l o b a l confiscation of global Intellectual trade negotiations’. 5 One of these Property Rights (IPR). international agreements is the In the Philippines the theft of Asian ‘Trade Related Intellectual Property rice varieties is one aspect of Rights’ or TRIPS council. The TRIPS legislation is vehemently disputed b i o p i r a c y b e i n g c h a l l e n g e d b y b e c a u s e i t s a r t i c l e 2 7 . 3 a l l o w s lawyers, Benjamin Ramos Jr and patenting of life forms, plants a n d m i c r o o rg a n i s m s , a n d microbiological materials. 6,7 Every biotech market-leader is But first let’s look at how the trying to be the first to ‘spin’ TRIPS legislation can protein in laboratories within theoretically benefit the TNCs. Simplifying a complex ten years, then to market procedure such as genetic laboratory-food globally modification (GM) we could say that biochemists normally splice a ‘sticky end’ (a g r o u p i n g o f m o l e c u l a r m a t e r i a l Mario Denito. As Board Members of including a virus) into an original M A S I PA G , a N o n - G o v e r n m e n t c e l l , g r o w a G M v a r i e t y o f t h e Organisation (NGO), they represent o r i g i n a l , t h e n s u b m i t p a t e n t i n g the interests of 900,000 farmers, applications as if a new ‘life form’ farming families, scientists and other was created. After which they market legal experts. MASIPAG, like PAN, it globally as if it belonged to them, is part of a larger grouping of NGOs and WTO protects their business in the region, and throughout the i n t e r e s t s t h r o u g h t h e T R I P S world, fighting to protect local small legislation. Simple sticky ends ....... farmers’ rights. The stakes are so high It is clear that most of WTO’s 135 that all small farmers obviously need member nations joined in order to protect their national economic interests against various aspects of economic fascism. WTO’s role is that of a powerbroker in an unelected world government intent on protecting the corporate/elitist agendas and business interests of the New World Order (NWO). NWO comprises WTO, the World Bank, United Nations, International Monetary Fund, the Business Round Table, Club of Rome and a massive web of various interlinked but unelected organisations. (Including recently formed Food Authorities, Health Regulatory bodies, and soon the WTO’s ‘General Agreement on Trade in Services’ (GATS) will mean that the world’s public services 8 will also be corporatised.) Many of these organisations are partially funded by taxpayers’ money 32 Healthy Options • Apr ‘01 busy reproducing themselves. SYNGENTA, the world’s biggest biotech TNC, was created when NOVARTIS and ZENECA merged on 10 October 1999 in Basel, Switzerland (with European Union permission). They plan to integrate seed corporations into their ‘life sciences’ division, chemical divisions into a ‘crop protection’ group, and also operate pharmaceutical ‘healthcare’ corporations. They hope to reinvent new forms of pharmaceuticals and are ‘moving from the seed business to food and pharmaceuticals’. 9 AVENTIS is the second largest biotech TNC and MONSANTO, until recently biotech market leader, is now third largest. According to Bill Wadsworth, senior food technologist in the food retail industry itself a corporation manufacturing and retailing food, every biotech market-leader is trying to be the first to ‘spin’ protein in laboratories within ten years, then to market laboratory-food globally. These corporations will make their true GM business agenda known to the public slowly and deliberately. They might even engineer a few major global food disasters so, ‘ s t a n d a r d - e q u i v a l e n t , 10 s a f e a n d nutritionally excellent GM lab-food’ will be welcomed into a currently GM wary market to ease shortages. They might even engineer a few major global food disasters NGO assistance to retain ownership of traditional systems, resources and traditional seed varieties. According to Mr Ramos, “Half a million people signed a petition to register their solidarity against the patenting of life. We had a MASIPAG conference in February 1999 and presented that petition to the Department of Agriculture and also the Department of Agrarian Reform.” The biotech TNCs would be well advised to listen to the opinions of both protesters and NGO representatives, but they are too We must never forget the biotech TNC’s gruesome past. As the world’s chemical giants, they sprayed agrichemicals into soil and food chain, forcing it down our throats for the past 50 years. 11 Although patenting and GM is the second wave, the first wave of chemical madness still severely chemically poisons three million people annually, and more than 20,000 of those may die. 12 Great advertising for such a dedicated good-news industry! For example, rural suicide is a plague in countries like Sri Lanka where impoverished rice farmers often use chemicals to poison themselves, their debt/desperation cycle often caused, ironically by chemical farming. 13 ‹
  3. 3. In the past five decades the world’s traditional organic agricultural systems were supposedly ‘upgraded’, but really they were usurped by greedy multinational chemical companies interested in profit. This ‘industrial advancement’ meant reliance on agrichemicals and artificial chemical fertiliser inputs, which were of course ‘safe and effective’. These were essential to maintain newlyintroduced broad-acre farming systems, producing so-called ‘conventional’ food which Joe Public was assured would be safe and, ‘feed the world’. Today’s GM marketing uses the same cynical ‘feed the world’ slogan, and biotech TNCs reassure public of ‘safety’ and ‘benefits’....... TNC biotechs may be challenged to win the lab-food race but in southern lands the unrelenting legal battle to save many varieties of indigenous plants continues. Rice is the staple d i e t f o r o v e r h a l f t h e w o r l d ’s population and also under greatest threat from patenting and GM. According to MASIPAG researchers approximately 160 biotech-patents are owned by TNCs, and 13 biotech corporations also hold most of the patents on rice. Since May 2000, a c c o r d i n g t o M A S I PA G , t h e International Rice Research Institute funded a project to grow a trial crop of ‘BB rice’, so-called because it is genetically engineered to resist bacterial blight. MASIPAG opposed the project and Mr Ramos explains that ‘BB rice’ will inevitably contaminate other rice varieties. There should, he insists, be a minimum ten year moratorium on GE because it endangers existing crops and food security. Amongst the bleak ‘sticky ends’ of GM there is some good news for Indian Basmati rice growers, reported in the Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India on 27 September 2000: “In a major success for India’s effort to retain its commercial interest on Basmati rice exports, Ricetec Inc, a Texan-based US company, which had obtained a patent for ‘Basmati rice lines and grains’, has been forced to withdraw certain claims in its US patent.”..... “Ricetec Inc has now withdrawn the claims, which could have adversely affected the commercial interests of Basmati rice exporters.” And Mr Tjahjadi adds, “Biopiracy is already happening everywhere, not just here .... why should we have to pay for using our own traditional herbs?” Southern and indigenous groups, he hopes, will be able to defend themselves against biopiracy and GM. But on the other hand TNCs would not feed the world; bring safe food to the marketplace; pay restitution for reducing biodiversity and fertility by 50 per cent; 14 or compensate p o i s o n e d p e o p l e ’s f a m i l i e s o r infertile couples. That is why billions of global citizens care about the ravages of biopiracy and the TRIPS legislation, and some are brave enough to mobilise against economic fascism. New World (dis)Order The New World Order was mentioned in a CNN sound-byte by President Bush, during the Gulf War (1991) when he stated that the NWO would use the Rule of Law to enforce international peace. The US government speech writers/PR spindoctors must have realised this gaffe had antagonised the public who should remain ignorant of their government’s hidden agendas, and that was the last we officially heard of NWO. The secret government is part of the NWO, but many people still believe the NWO is a wacky conspiracy theory ...... and now that Mr Bush Jnr is President of the US, we can expect the Republican Party to push ahead with their globalisation plans. To protect our own interests, people should rally against globalisation because it is being used to destroy much that we hold sacred. However, a word of warning - do not believe any of the ‘spin’. Bibliography/Information 1. Interview, 5 February 2001: Neil Lopez, NZ Jamu importer distributor. 2. Pesticide Action Network (PAN), a global network, researching, documenting and lobbying against the use of agri-chemicals, more recently GE, biotechnology and patenting technologies. You can make a difference by joining PAN (New Zealand). Contact Alison White re membership/ campaigns.Phone: (04) 476 8607. Write (including NZ$10 cheque for annual membership) to: Alison White, Pesticide Action Network, PO Box 43199, Wainuiomata, Wellington, 6008. 3. Lobby Shiseido: Mr Gemma CEO, Shiseido Corporation, International Business Department, 3rd Floor, Asahi Building, Ginza 6-6-7 Chuo Ku, Tokyo, 104-0061, Japan. 4. Paul Kingsnorth, Seeds of The New in the Prague Autumn, The Ecologist, Volume 30 no 8, November 2000. 5. Simon Retallack, After Seattle: Where Next for the WTO?, The Ecologist, Volume 30 no 2, April 2000. Website: www.the For more information on post-Seattle events:;; 6. Interview, September 2000: Peter Ungphakorn, Public Information Unit, WTO, Geneva, Switzerland. 7. MASIPAG publishing, Biopiracy TRIPS and the Patenting of Asia’s Rice Bowl, May 1998. Email: 8. Maude Barlow, The Last Frontier, The Ecologist, Volume 31 no 1, February 2001. 9. Interview, September 2000: Felix Raeber, Corporate Communications director, Syngenta, Basel, Switzerland. Email: 10. Standard equivalence: term used by the GM industry to assume that a GM produce has the same properties for example as a conventional tomato, so the GM tomato is equivalent to its counterpart. Standard equivalence is an industry norm in the US, the method by which biotech corporations bypass food safety issues and release GM food without adequate scientific testing. 11. Graham Harvey, The Killing of the Countryside, Jonathan Cape, London, 1997. 12. WHO figures, 1992. No more recent statistics are yet available. 13. Lasanda Kurukulasuriya, New Internationalist, no 331, Jan/Feb 2001. Website: 14. Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers, Our Stolen Future, Dutton, New York, USA, 1996. Apr ‘01 • Healthy Options 33