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Article: 1045 of
From: (dave "who can do? ratmandu!" ratcliffe)
Subject: too insane for yew? Part II
Summary: Ron Brown's Attempts to Patent Human Genetic Material
Keywords: Hell's Own U.S. Secretary of Commerce playing Orwell's leading man
Organization: Silicon Graphics, Inc.
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 1994 14:07:11 GMT
Lines: 160

Are we insane enuff yet? Can we stop now? Or do we have to go all the way down this shaft into a hell-on-earth equal to the most bizarre images ever painted by the likes of Heronimous Bosch? What does it say about a society when a person "in charge of commerce" actually makes a statement like,
Under our laws, as well as those of many other countries, subject matter relating to human cell lines is patentable and there is no provision for considerations relating to the sources of the cells . . .
"no provisions" -- are you sure about that Mr. Brown?!!?! Industrial culture exists as it does, because we have all been raised to be insensitive to incoherence. Thought, defined as the response of memory, has created the idea of a world where mankind is somehow enabled to be "separate" and "apart" from the earth he inhabits and relies on. This is a fundamental incoherency, but we see it repeated again and again and again around us everyday. It is only an idea that air, water, plants, soil, etc., are "different" and "separate" from "me" (take away those "separate" things, and how long will this "me" last?), but look at what POWER that idea has! It has extended itself into every facet of human existence -- to the point where human beings are themselves, just things, separate and apart.

The fragmentation is almost 100% at this point. Such "breaking up" of the whole into parts is what thought thrives on -- supposedly, by seeing the parts, an understanding of the whole can be arrived at. This is exACTLY the opposite of what is happening more and more and more. We are almost totally incapable at this point of seeing wholistically, of perceiving the unitary movement of all things.

Why has humanity given such extraordinary importance to thought? Is it because it is the only thing we have, even though it is activated through senses? Is it because thought has been able to dominate nature, dominate its surroundings, has brought about some physical security? Is it because it is the greatest instrument through which man operates, lives and benefits? Is it because thought has made the gods, the saviours, the super-consciousness, forgetting the anxiety, the fear, the sorrow, the envy, the guilt? Is it because it holds people together as a nation, as a group, as a sect? Is it because it offers hope to a dark life? Is it because it gives an opening to escape from the daily boring ways of our life? Is it because not knowing what the future is, it offers the security of the past, its arrogance, its insistence on experience? Is it because in knowledge there is stability, the avoidance of fear in the certainty of the known? Is it because thought in itself has assumed an invulnerable position, taken a stand against the unknown? Is it because love is unaccountable, not measurable, while thought is measured and resists the changeless movement of love?

We have never questioned the very nature of thought. We have accepted thought as inevitable, as our eyes and legs. We have never probed to the very depth of thought: and because we have never questioned it, it has assumed preeminence. It is the tyrant of our life and tyrants are rarely challenged.

-- Krishnamurti, Letters To The Schools, Volume 1, 15th March, 1979

Date: Tue, 5 Jul 1994 21:50:49 GMT
From: Rich Winkel <>
Organization: PACH
Subject: Patenting Human Genetic Material
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <>

/** headlines: 346.0 **/
** Topic: Patenting Human Genetic Material **
** Written 12:04 pm Jun 30, 1994 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
From: George Gundrey - IGC News Desk <newsdesk>

Are Humans in the Convention?
by Pat Mooney, RAFI

According to GATT and the Budapest Convention, micro-organisms can include human genetic material including the entire DNA (cell line) of a human being. Are we -- like fungi and bacteria -- part of the micro-organisms in the Biodiversity Convention? Far from theoretical, this is an immediate and critical question for indigenous communities in Panama, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands whose citizens have been the subject of patent claims by the U.S. Government.

When the President of the Guaymi General Congress rushed to the ICCBD meeting in Geneva last October, he had both a problem and a question. The Guaymi, the largest indigenous community in Panama, were faced with a patent claim on a virus derived from the immortalized human cell line of a 26-year old Guaymi mother of two in Western Panama. The patent claimant was none other than Mr. Ron Brown in his capacity as the US Secretary of Commerce. The question, for the Guaymi, was whether they could seek protection from the patent attack from the Convention on Biological Diversity. Despite strong support in Geneva from the Group of 77 and confrontations with the GATT Secretariat, the issue never came forward for formal resolution at the ICCBD. Mr. Brown and his band of renown at the Commerce Department dropped the patent claim on 5 November. End of issue.

Not quite. In January this year, researchers uncovered two other patent claims by Mr. Brown. One is directly based on the human cell lines of indigenous people in Papua New Guinea and the other is a similar claim on people in the Solomon Islands. On the first of February, Solomon Islands Ambassador Rex Horoi (New York) wrote a tough letter to Mr. Brown asserting that there had been no adequate "prior informed consent" for the removal or patenting of the human material and demanding that the patent be dropped. On March 3rd, Brown rejected the Solomon Islands complaint saying that "Under our laws, as well as those of many other countries, subject matter relating to human cell lines is patentable and there is no provision for considerations relating to the sources of the cells..." The question for the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea -- and for the Biodiversity Convention -- is, did these countries surrender their rights to reclaim their own human genetic material when they signed the Biodiversity Convention and agreed that all biomaterials gathered prior to the Convention coming into force might (pending the debate on Resolution 3 of the Nairobi Final Act) be outside the control of the Convention? Are human genetic materials part of the definition of micro-organisms as they are in GATT 0 or are "we" outside the Convention?

That question was asked of Mr. Val Giddings, a member of the U.S. delegation here, when something called the Human Genome Diversity Project met in the United States more than a year ago. The HGDP is a conglomeration of medical researchers who want to immortalize the human cell lines of several hundred indigenous communities ("Isolates of Historic Interest") around the world. Giddings was uncertain. As the Third World begins to count the huge range of patents granted to pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies on soil micro-organisms -- and as awareness spreads of the commercial interest in human genetic diversity, the ICCBD may well have to come up with an answer.

* Origin: ELCI,Nairobi (5:731/1)
** End of text from cdp:headlines **

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    Is the problem not one of refusing to accept a leader? This alone brings equality in social and economic relationships. When thrown on his own responsibility, man will inevitably question. And in questioning there is no higher, no lower. Any system based on acceptance of capacity differences to establish status must inevitably lead to a hierarchical society, and so breed class war. . . . What is it that gives dignity to man? Self-knowledge--the knowledge of what you are? The follower is the greatest curse.

-- J. Krishnamurti, Krishnamurti, A Biography by Pupul Jayakar, pp. 146-7

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