Tuesday, November 2, 2010

When corporations try to patent the ways of old

Imagine you have some sort of formula, remedy, or recipe that has been used in your part of the world centuries if not millenia. Some mixture that serves a purpose such as healing a wound, curing an infection, or soothing an itchy rash.

Now imagine of out of nowhere some big company that's younger than your grandparents sweeps in and claims they have a patent on said creation. That is precisely what the toothpaste maker Colgate is trying to do in its efforts to patent an herbal tooth cleaner that has been used in India for many, many, many years. And it looks like this has even gotten to the point where it has a name:
The patent, the Indian activists allege, is the latest act of "biopiracy" - whereby Western corporations plunder techniques, plants or genes used in the emerging world for centuries, for commercial profit.
Biopiracy. Sounds terrible doesn't it? That's because it is terrible.

As we have seen in the past mega corporations have shown time and time again that, despite what their commercials and slogans might say, they are only interested in making money and keeping their status. They have no problem putting things like customer satisfaction (and sometimes safety) on the back burner to make a few dollars more.

We are talking about people having their very traditions and history being taken out from under them. This is something that simply cannot be allowed to happen.