Thursday, June 12, 2003

Monbiot: Monsanto and GM crops
'The principal issue, perpetually and deliberately ignored by government, many scientists, most of the media and, needless to say, the questionnaire being used to test public opinion, is the corporate takeover of the foodchain. By patenting transferred genes and the technology associated with them, then buying up the competing seed merchants and seed breeding centres, the biotech companies can exert control over the crops at every stage of production and sale.'

Monbiot argues threats to the environment and to human health are secondary issues. I believe he is correct. But there is a further aspect to the debate that Monbiot does not touch on: 'GM' crops and the patenting of lifeforms is a form of corporate 'enclosure' and 'rentseeking'. This is the driving economic force behind it. The response to this therefore (assuming GM crops pass adequate health and environment tests) should be either special taxation on these 'rents' or an 'open source' model of the technology; or a combination of the two.

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