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THE CORPORATION [16/23]

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Today the job of building this nation geographically is completed. There are no new frontiers within or borders. So to what new horizons can we look now? Where are tomorrows opportunities? What's ahead for you for your children? The frontiers of the future are not on any map. They're in the test tubes and laboratories of the great industries. [Advancing the Front] The Chakrabarty case is one of the great judicial moments in world history. And the public was totally unaware it was actually happening as a process was being engaged. General Electric and Professor Chakrabarty went to the patent office with a little microbe that eats up oil spills. They said they had modified this microbe in the laboratory and therefore it was an invention. The patent office and the U. S. Government took a look at this quote invention; they said no way. The patent statures don't cover living things. This is not an invention. Turned down. Then General Electric and Doctor Chakrabarty appealed to the U. S. Customs Court of Appeal. And to everyone's surprise by a three to two decision they overrode the patent office. They said this microbe looks more like a detergent or a reagent than a horse or a honeybee. I laugh because they didn't understand basic biology; it looked like a chemical to them. Had it had an antenna or eyes or wings or legs, it would never have crossed their table and been patented. Then the patent office appealed. And what the public should realize now is the patent office was very clear that you can't patent life. My organization provided the main amicus curiae brief. If you allow the patent on this microbe, we argued, it means that without any congressional guidance or public discussion corporations will own the blueprints of life. When they made the decision we lost by five to four and Chief Justice Warren said, sure, some of these are big issues but we think this is a small decision. Seven years later the U. S. Patent office issued a one sentence decree. You can patent anything in the world that's alive, except a full birth human being. ... the prime court of US ruled today, that living organisms produced in the laboratory, may be patended... ... US prime court has decided, was wether one man or one company should be able to control new forms of life... ... if we allow a company or college to exclusively own these species, what is that saying about our ... ... manipulated the genes of mouse, making their offsprings more suspectable to cancer ... ... Canadians don't think that life forms are inventions of industry, like blubs and ... ... certain companies search the planet for genes... ... companies discovering the planet, looking for valuable DNA, genes that they can pattend for themselves... ... instead of being the impartial persuated of the truth, has become the persuated of profit ... We've all been hearing about the announcement that we have mapped the human genome. But what the public doesn't know is now there's this great race by genomic companies and biotech companies and life science companies to find the treasure in the map. The treasure are the individual genes that make up the blueprint of the human race. Every time they capture agene and isolate it these biotech companies they claim it as intellectual property. The breast cancer gene, the cystic fibrosis gene, it goes on and on and on. If this goes unchallenged in the world community within less than 10 years, a handful of global companies will own directly or through license the actual genes that make up the evolution of our species. And they're now beginning to patent the genomes of every other creature on this planet. In the age of biology the politics is going to sort out between those who believe life first has intrinsic value and therefore we should choose technologies and commercial venues that honour the intrinsic value. And then we're going to have people who believe look life is a simple utility. It's commercial fare and they will line up with the idea to let the marketplace be the ultimate arbiter of all of the age of biology.

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 48 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: MARK ACHBAR and BART SIMPSON
Director: MARK ACHBAR and JENNIFER ABBOTT
Views: 175
Posted by: rafaelmatheus on May 30, 2010

Where do tomorrow's opportunities for profit lie? In the US, the Supreme Court ruled that anything alive can be patented except a human being. When life itself is ruled commercial fair game, gene pirates scour the world for new sources and the human genome project takes on new fervour.

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