We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Corporate Enclosure of Seeds Intensifies

Click here to access article by David Bollier from his blog David Bollier: news and perspectives on the commons.

The title makes reference to the classic event of enclosure in Britain starting in the 16th century (see this) and the subject of a classic work by Karl Polanyi entitled The Great Transformation. It had profound effects on working people in Britain, and continues to be employed today by capitalist agents in their quest to "own" everything everywhere that might be of value to anyone (see this).

In this article we see the same principle pursued by global corporations to "own" seeds.
In a sign of how far the forces of enclosure have come, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that re-using seeds that are patented, knowingly or not, amounts to an act of piracy.  Of course, re-using seeds has been the tradition in agriculture for millennia, just as re-using songs and text is an essential element of culture.
No matter.  The masters of "intellectual property" hold the whip hand, and they don't want us to re-use and share seeds as the natural course of things. If you think that a farmer ought to be able to use the seeds from one crop in the next season, you are entertaining  illegal ideas.