Dec 21, 2012

Redefining the human and the future of capitalism


tobiasfonseca

On December 6, the European Parliament made moves towards protecting genetic resources that are increasingly bioprospected and used to create pharmaceutical products.This raises a serious question about patenting the building blocks of life, and the roles of sovereigns, pirates, and the commonwealth of biological materials, have to play in deciding how this debate will unfold in the future. To traditional cultures, putting patents upon their commonly and communally held knowledge of the uses of animals and plants, constitutes a form of biopiracy. Biopiracy, in this case, refers when the resulting profits don’t benefit the community that originated the resources.

The European Pariament’s draft report, written by Catherine Gr├Ęze, summarizes the predicaments going forward: “The protection and preservation of genetic diversity is a key component of the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Genetic resources (GR) are particularly essential for sustainable agriculture and food security. Furthermore, genetic diversity is one of the most important components for the survival of the species and the ecosystem’s resilience. Therefore, the loss of genetic diversity that occurs as part of the biodiversity erosion process represents a key challenge for humanity”. What is at stake is the total redefinition of life and at a fundamental level and who is going to be allowed to profit off of this redefinition.


Genetic modification and piracy still constitute grey areas between state sponsored bio-corsairs, biopirates, sovereign states, and the shared repository of common knowledge. Genetic piracy is a space yet to be charted, mapped, and known. The redefinition of humanity lies at the heart of the new territory of capitalist expansion: no longer needing the earth (or having exhausted much of its use), capitalism needs to find new territories to conquer; space, both expansive and nano, as well as the very substances of nature, are increasingly coming under exploration. 

Living organisms are the raw material of the new biotechnologies. The motion brought before the European Parliament (as well as the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity, and relevant WTO, and TRIPS agreements) attempts to position parliaments as protectors and controllers of common rights, against the companies who are plundering the commonwealth. As we have seen, capitalism joins with pirate organizations to change the flows and recombine and transform what currently exists. But now pirate, sovereign, and corsair organizations will have the ability and potential to change the very nature of humanity itself by recombining and transforming DNA and nature itself. This leads us to wonder how organizations will control transnational changes in sovereignty, and be a vehicle for capitalist expansion; or how organizations from the fringes will negotiate the common cause of humanity, as large multinationals, NGOs, private foundations and industry associations, influence and change the course of history and what it may mean to be human. 




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