Founded only this year in Sweden, the youth-oriented Pirate Party supports free movies and music and opposes payments for downloading "cultural" products over the Internet. The Pirate Party focuses on a single area - intellectual property - and is anti-patent, anti-copyright and anti-trademark. Now the Pirate party has spread to
18 other countries including to Canada.
The Party catapaulted into fame especially after Swedish police raided a building housing about 200 internet sites, some of which hosted file-sharing. After the raid, membership soared. Demonstrations in several Swedish cities in support of the raided internet sites were organized by the Pirate Party. Inundated by the fervor of the Pirate Party messages, the Swedish Justice Minister capitulated, agreeing to negotiate a revision
to the law that outlawed unauthorized downloading of
This year’s prestigious food prize has been jointly awarded to Professor Yuan Longping of China, Director-General of the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center in Changsha, Hunan, China and to Dr. Monty Jones of Sierra Leone, former senior rice breeder at the West Africa Rice Development Center (WARDA), presently Executive Secretary, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), in Accra, Ghana.
From the press release at the World Food Prize:
In announcing these recipients, World Food Prize President, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, lauded both scientists for their “breakthrough scientific achievements which have significantly increased food security for millions of people from Asia to Africa.” The Ambassador added that it was particularly fitting that these two pioneering rice breeders be honored during the United Nations International Year of Rice, the crop identified as the staple diet of more than three billion people around the world.
The World Food Prize, created in 1986 by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr Norman E. Borlaug, is the world’s foremost award inspiring and recognizing breakthrough contributions to improving human development by increasing the quality, quantity, and availability of food in the world.
Because of bans and moratoriums in the major agriculture states of Australia, Monsanto has decided to pull out of research programs leading to trials of GM-modified crops.
Western Australia and Tasmania have banned GM crops. Victoria and South Australia both have moratoriums. New South Wales is also instituting control by scaling back at least one trial of GM canola.
While the news pleases anti-GM groups, many farmers and industry groups are unhappy with this development. A spokesman for the Commonwealth Agriculture Minister said that Australia’s farmers now risk being left behind in world markets.
Interestingly, in a survey done by Biotechnology Australia, “Australians are more likely to be concerned about pollution, the greenhouse effect and nuclear waste than the use of gene technology.” (view public attitude reports) The study found that 56% believe that Australian farmers need access to gene technology to stay competitive internationally and 45% of Australians would eat GM foods.No tags for this post.
After three-year long trials, the British Government has approved growing of herbicide-tolerant corn. The corn is the product of Bayer CropScience. The permission is heavily labored with conditions however and expires in October 2006.
Only last year, the European Union removed a ban that had been enacted on growing genentically modified crops. The ban was justified based on health concerns but the United States has maintained that the ban (and the new laws on labeling and traceability of GM-ingredients) is an unfair trade barrier.No tags for this post.
According to an IPS News article (dated 10 Feb 2004) Monsanto has decided to suspend sales of genetically modified (GM) soybean in Argentina. Argentina is the 3rd largest producer of soybean, behind Brazil and the US. The article says competition from black market sales of GM soy in Argentina is the reason Monsanto has ceased both sales of GM soy and all further R&D on GM soybean within Argentina.
Although farmers are entitled to cull seeds for the use of replanting new crops (Argentina’s 1973 seed law), the problem is the illegal sales of culled GM soybean seeds on the black market. Farmers argue the problem is not from small- or medium-sized farms selling culled GM seeds. Instead, the farmers say that they do not have the large scale seed infrastructure that would be required to produce the current large volumes of black market GM seeds. Furthermore, the farmers contend that the huge growth in black market sales indicates that the current controls and enforcement procedures are not adequate, and moreover it should be dealt with by the Argentine government.No tags for this post.
The Free Trade Agreement is BIG news in Australia, where I am currently visiting. When I lived here, it amazed me how little attention in the U.S. is paid to such important world events. In this case, the FTA with Australia is only the second FTA that the U.S. has negotiated with a developed country (the first being with Canada as part of NAFTA).
Finally, a summary of the intellectual property provisions has been released by the US Trade Representative. The U.S.-centric version can be found here. As stated in the release, the patent part of the agreement:
- provides for the extension of patent terms to compensate for delays in granting the original patent, consistent with U.S. practice;
- limits the grounds for revoking a patent, thus protecting against arbitrary revocation; [comment: I wonder what this refers to]
- clarifies that test data and trade secrets submitted to a government for purpose of product approval will be protected against unfair commercial use for 5 years for pharmaceuticals and 10 years for agricultural chemicals;
- requires measures to prevent the marketing of pharmaceutical products that infringe patents, and to provide notice when the validity of a pharmaceutical patent is to be challenged;
- assures protection for newly developed plant varieties and animals [comment: this is already how both the U.S. and Australia operate].
The Australian-centric view of the FTA says very little about the patent provisions other than the outcome is increased harmonisation. A summary of the agreement can be found here.No tags for this post.
Several activist organizations are accusing Monsanto of having a patent on Nap Hal, a land race strain of wheat from India. The organizations also level a second accusation that the patent gives Monsanto rights over the use of Nap Hal to make chapatis, a traditional Indian bread. In an attempt to have the patent revoked, three NGO (non-governmental organizations) have filed formal opposition to the patent in the European Patent Office. (The Financial Express, 28 January 2004, from New Delhi India.)
The patent at issue, EP 445929 B1, is innocuously entitled “Plants”. In future posts, the claims of the European Patent will be analyzed according to principles of European patent law. Likewise, the claims of the NGOs will be analyzed against the patent claims. In this way, I hope to inject and spark some informed debate on the subject.No tags for this post.