Patenting of Life

Book - October 2003

Transnational Biotech Companies Colonise the Food Chain

This book demonstrates that a handful of companies have gained an alarming level of control over the food chain through the industrialisation of agriculture, the forces of globalisation, and the vertical and horizontal integration of business. These corporations are deeply involved in the current push for genetic engineering in agriculture. Industry argues that genetic engineering is the technology of the next industrial revolution and that it can help resolve the problem of hunger. This book shows that the way the technology is being applied is instead a continuation and intensification of an industrial agriculture model that has failed to live up to its expectations and promises. Rather than offer new solutions, genetic engineering will advance a stronger, already established trend towards the social, political and economic reorganisation of our communities according to the interests of the world’s largest corporations, with little regard for environmental and social impacts. In this context, genetic engineering is not merely a new technology, but a means to gain power over people and resources.

Briefing - April 2001

Stifling Research and Jeopardising Healthcare

Three examples show that patents on genes and gene fragments seriously threaten future medical research. They can stifle research and collaboration and increase prices through patent monopolies, neither of which serve the public interest. A review of gene patents - both granted and pending over the last few years - is long overdue. In particular, the case of the CCR5 gene and AIDS clearly highlights the folly of granting broad patents for all medical applications. The simplest solution is for genes and gene fragments to be made unpatentable – political action is needed now before the companies clean up on gene patents and society is left counting the cost.