Summary: Intellectual agriculture increases dependence among farmers and makes the Gates Foundation even wealthier
IN OUR continued watch of the Gates Foundation we accumulate information about its investments, which are totally independent from charitable works but at the same time closely tied to them. One strand of activism from the Gates Foundation is to do with spreading food that depends upon United States patents. We covered some of the issues already, e.g. in:
- Bill Gates Takes His GMO Patent Investments/Experiments to India
- How the Gates Foundation Privatises Africa
- Reader’s Article: The Gates Foundation and Genetically-Modified Foods
- Monsanto: The Microsoft of Food
Rather than repeat older observations and external references (we always strive to minimise repetition where cross-referencing is a possibility) we shall add two new posts from Glyn Moody, a journalist who is similarly interested in the impact of Monsanto — a company Gates promotes and invests heavily in.
Moody’s first post says that Monsanto is even worse than Microsoft.
Do genetically-modified seeds bring increased productivity? There seem doubts; but even assuming it’s true, Gates sets up a false dichotomy: one reason GMO seeds aren’t sustainable is because they are patented. That is, farmers *must* buy them year after year, and can’t produce their own seeds. It’s a situation that’s relatively easy to solve: make GMOs patent-free; do not place restrictions on their use; let farmers do what farmers have done for millennia.
And look, there you have it, potentially: productivity and sustainability. But we won’t get that, not because the idealistic environmentalist are blocking it, but because the seed industry wants farmers dependent on their technology, not liberated by it. It is sheer hypocrisy for a fan of patents to accuse environmentalists of being the obstacle to productivity and sustainability: that would be the industrial model of dependence, enforced by intellectual monopolies, and espoused by big companies like Monsanto, the Microsoft of plant software.
In another new post, Moody explains why taking perfectly acceptable farming and then taxing it using patents from the West is a recipe for disaster.
Good to see that I’m not a lone voice crying in the wilderness:
The continuing patenting of seeds, conventional plant varieties and animal species leads to far-reaching expropriations of farmers and breeders: farmers are deprived of their rights to save their seeds, and breeders are under strong limitations to use the patented seeds freely for further breeding. The patent holder controlls the sale of the seeds and the planting, decides about the use of herbicides and can even collect royalties at the harvest – up to the finished food product.
Our food security is increasingly dependent on a few transnational chemical and biotechnological companies.
The European Patent Office (EPO) has continuasly broadened the scope of patentability and undermined existing restrictions, in the interest of multinational companies.
This exactly parallels the situation with software patents, where the EPO is using every trick in the book to approve them; except it’s even worse.
People must remember that Monsanto is not in the business of helping people; it’s in the business of increasing shareholders’ value. Its stock surged sharply as a function of dependency in the developing world and it just happens to be the case that Bill Gates is a leading investor. █