Wednesday, April 19, 2006


This weekend included a journey to Tyromaven's to watch The Corporation. Despite Sarah's endorsement, I was wary; the previews I'd long ago seen in theaters made the film appear to be just another one of the kneejerk liberal documentaries that spawned in the wake of Fahrenheit 9/11. But no.

Everyone should see this film. Right away. It not only presents a fairly balanced view of the corporation as an entity (certainly its biases are obvious, but it does allow corporate mavens to speak for themselves without editing them to death or asking them nasty questions--and wow, the level at which they have no souls amazes me), but identifies the underlying legal and social problems that give it the character it has today. The legal definition of the corporation as a person protected under the Fourteenth Amendment plays a huge role in this, but there are many others that, being on vacation, I don't have the faculties to explain now. Please see the movie; please see it now. But there is one point I want to have up here now.

One segment of the movie focuses on the relatively new phenomenon of gene patenting. According to The Corporation, the only living thing that cannot be patented at this point in time is a "live-born human being." Any genetic engineering, any alteration of a disease microbe, any genetic pattern, can be patented. When a genetic laboratory identifies a genetic sequence, their scientists can patent it immediately. For example, the gene that creates a predisposition towards breast cancer has been patented.

"Why," asked Tyromaven as we watched, "can't someone sue them for having breast cancer?"

Why not, indeed.

There were a number of electrical ideas tossed by my amazing friends after we saw this movie, many of which I will discuss in the coming months, but the actions suggested by this one seem to me the most concrete. So if anybody is or knows an anti-gene-patenting activist, or can see legal problems inherent to this logic, or has anything relevant to say, say it, and if you like this idea or others related to it, spread it. I can't imagine that no idea similar to this has ever been proposed, but nevertheless I think it brilliant, and think there might be some pretty fascinating legal ways to approach it and work it.


At 2:23 PM, Blogger Cody said...

There has been lawsuits arising (primarily in Canada) when farmers will discover Monsanto seeds that have been cultivated in their farms (this usually happens when a truck passes by, and the wind carries the seeds). There's a documentary on this, as well as other ills of contemporary farming.

At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Milligan said...

It may have taken a whole week to get around to writing, but my take on this is now up at EGAD: Patent Tomfoolery with Breast Cancer


Post a Comment

<< Home