We are Earth.
We are Biodiversity.
We are Jiva [Life in Hindi].
We are Conscious.
We are Alive.
We are Free.
We are members of one interconnected Earth Family : of sovereign, autonomous, self organised, interdependent, intelligent beings.
We are Biodiversity : interconnected to other beings through food and water, through breath and air, through life, and intelligence.
Like our fellow beings, human beings are sovereign, living, intelligent, self organised, autonomous beings; mutually interdependent and sustaining.
In the living world of Biodiversity, all life is sacred, and life strives to nourish and support life. Life is the nature of the living.
The Patenting and Piracy of life — of Biodiversity, of natural processes, and nature itself (including the Minds and Bodies of Human beings) — is a violation of Spiritual Law, Ecological Law, Biodiversity Laws and Human Rights Laws. But one does not need to look at ‘theft’ through these lenses to see ‘theft’ as ‘theft’. Patenting of life is the theft of life — claiming that which is not yours to claim. Patents on life, quite simply, are the enslavement of life itself, stealing (or pirating) the nature of life.
The Mechanical Mind separates, mines and extracts
The Mechanical Mind, connected to the Money Machine of extraction, created the illusion of humans as separate from nature, and nature as dead, inert raw material to be exploited.
The ‘death of nature’ assumption is at the core of the logic of extractivism and the metaphor of mining – of land from indigenous peoples, of fertility from the soil, of water from rivers and underground aquifers, of genes from biodiversity, and knowledge from indigenous communities. Biopiracy is the mining of knowledge and biodiversity for patents and Intellectual Property Rights.
A new Biopiracy is under way — through patents on data of our bodies and minds, and mining of such data as “Human Body Activity “. We are being turned into the next raw material. Our minds and bodies are the latest colony for mining and extraction. They did say “data is the new oil”, and just as the oil industry extracted oil to fuel its war on the planet, data is already being used against the minds and bodies of people.
This is a higher level of Biopiracy, because it is an attempt at creating new tools of manipulation and control. It is an attempt to make human beings disappear in a world being engineered through the narrow blinkered mechanical mind which cannot see anything beyond its extractive machine for money making. The Mechanical Mind sees only its objective : Profit.
We stand at a precipice of extinction. Will we allow our humanity as living, conscious, intelligent autonomous beings be extinguished, by the greed machine, that does not know limits and is unable to put a break on its colonisation and destruction? Or, will we stop the machine and defend our humanity, freedom and autonomy? So many species have been driven to extinction, no longer able to survive, because the conditions necessary fir their survival were no longer available. We have a choice: do we continue protecting the conditions for our survival, or do we extract all life for ‘profit’ — leaving a dead planet in our wake, on our way to our own funeral.
For five decades I have worked on the reality of non separability, including my PhD on Non Locality and Non Separability in Quantum Theory. My passionate commitment to dedicate my life to understanding the ecological interconnectedness of biodiversity, and protection of biodiversity, started with the Chipko movement. For me, protection of biodiversity is protecting both for the integrity of life as well as the rights and needs of local communities who have been conservers and custodians of biodiversity.
I witnessed how the Mechanical Mind — of powerful men, who run the money machine — reduced forests, which were sources of water, food, fuel for local communities, to timber mines for extraction. They reduced rivers, including the sacred Ma Ganga into Cusecs of water, to be extracted for privatisation, or kilowatts of energy, to to be extracted through dams and hydroelectric power plants.
Life is not an invention. Seeds are not machines.
In 1987, when I was attending a conference on the “Laws of Life”, on the new biotechnologies, I first heard the Poison Cartel (the group of chemical companies including the erstwhile I G Farben) attempting to define living organisms, and seeds, as machines that they had invented and wanted to patent. I was aware that the seed is not a machine assembled by chemical corporations. It is the embodiment of biodiversity and nature’s urge to reproduce, renew and multiply. Genetically modified seeds are seeds pirated from farmers, and modified with genes of naturally occurring bacteria. The only “invention” is shooting genes in a lab with a gene gun or infecting a cell with Agrobacterium, a plant cancer. Corporations pirate seed and mine genes to make GMOS. Patenting Seed was ecologically, ethically, ontologically wrong. It is a wrong that must be corrected. 33 years ago, I began my journey to protect the Biodiversity the integrity and diversity of Seed, and prevent Biopiracy and patents on seeds.
Navdanya grew from this commitment to Biodiversity. The movement has reclaimed seed as a commons, and created 150 community Seed Banks. Across the world, we have inspired the Seed Freedom movement. A new consciousness has grown about Seed Sovereignty.
We have also passed laws and treaties to protect Biodiversity. The Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 witnessed the emergence of a new legal framework for the Convention on Biodiversity.
India passed her National Biodiversity Act in 2002:
“An Act to provide for conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of biological resources, knowledge and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
India has passed laws that recognise that seed is not an invention and hence not patentable.
Art 3 of the Patent Act clearly defines what are not inventions, hence excluded from patentability.
Art 3j of the Indian Patent Act excludes from patentability:
“plants and animals in whole or in any part thereof other than microorganisms; but including seeds, varieties, and species, and essentially biological processes for production or propagation of plants and animals”.
This was the article used by the Indian patent office to strike down a Monsanto patent on climate resilient seeds, as well as Monsanto’s patent claims on Bt Cotton Seed.
(Origin: The Corporate Plunder of Nature and Culture. Natraj, 2018)
India’s law titled Plant Variety Protection and Farmers Rights Act 2001 has a clause on Farmers Rights.
“a farmer shall be deemed to be entitled to save, use, sow, re-sow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act in the same manner as he was entitled before the coming into force of this Act”
Not only did we put into law the integrity of life and Biodiversity by clearly stating that plants, animals and seeds are not an invention, we also fought and won cases to challenge patents based on Biopiracy — such USDA and WR Grace Neem (Patent No 436257), Ricetec’s Basmati (Patent No 56,63,484 ) and Monsanto’s Wheat Patent (Patent No 962578).
I have written in my book Biopiracy that Patents on Life and Patents on Seeds are the second coming of Columbus.
In 1492, Columbus was given a letters patent by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel of Castile in Spain, to “discover and subdue some Islands and Continents in the ocean”. The continent that Columbus was looking for was India, and that is why all indigenous peoples of North America are referred to as Indians. Having returned from the “Discovery of America”, he wrote to the King and Queen about the gold, its mining, its processing, and its transport to Castile. There was not a word about the original people, not a second thought about the theft.
Theft and Piracy were central to colonisation, and still are.
Columbus, by Eric Drooker