In this article, I'm going to explain the real story behind the big international push to get Indonesia and other Asian countries to "share" their H5N1 influenza samples with the rest of the world. As you may know, countries like Australia, the United States and the UK are applying heavy political pressure to Indonesia in an attempt to force it to give up its influenza DNA samples. These nations claim that it's critical for public health and necessary to manufacture vaccines that will save people from the next great pandemic.
Hogwash. Let me explain what's really going on here. The World Health Organization actually conspires with western pharmaceutical companies to acquire influenza samples from poor countries. These samples are turned over to drug companies, then used to manufacture patented vaccines. These vaccines are then sold back to the poor nations at monopolistic prices, and nations that attempt to manufacture their own generic vaccines are charged with violating international patent laws on the vaccine. Clever scam, wouldn't you say? But this is how western medicine operates.
Thus, the big push to get Indonesia to give up its H5N1 samples is nothing more complicated than good old fashioned corporate greed all dressed up to look like public safety. It's all about getting a country to give away its virus samples so that western corporations can exploit them for increased profits.
Indonesia, of course, isn't a stupid nation. Its leaders have figured out that there's no benefit in giving up these H5N1 bird flu influenza samples. In fact, doing so actually works against them, because it puts them in a position of having to beg for vaccines from the world's richest nations during any future global pandemic. And guess what? The world's richest nations are certainly not going to be sending their limited supply of vaccines to poor nations around the world, regardless of where the original influenza samples came from. Indonesia has figured out the truth behind all this, which is simply that poor nations will get shafted no matter what by rich, white-dominated, corporate-controlled wealthy nations that will not hesitate to exploit the genetic resources of poorer nations like Indonesia.
Why you never hear the real story reported
This truth about the bird flu virus samples is almost never reported in the western press. All you hear around here is how terrible Indonesia is for "not sharing" their virus samples. But that's just corporate spin. The truth is that Indonesia is trying to protect its own citizens by not surrendering the intellectual property of its virus samples to monopolistic U.S. and U.K. drug companies who have a well established history of stealing plants, herbs, genes and seeds from poor nations, then using western applications of intellectual property law to screw them over yet again. Indonesia, in fact, is doing the only rational thing it can: Keep the samples a secret, and avoid allowing the WHO and greedy drug companies to get their hands on them.
This argument about H5N1 samples isn't about public safety, folks. It's about profits. And Big Pharma can't manufacture and sell its useless vaccines unless it has some genetic code to work with. That's the whole reason behind this pressure to force Indonesia to "share" its bird flu samples. And the World Health Organization should be ashamed of itself for playing the role of corporate co-conspirator in pushing to exploit poor Asian nations.
Now, why don't these drug companies simply promise Indonesia a percentage on all drugs sold? Or why don't they promise the vaccines will be "open source" and not patented at all? Because they're greedy, of course. I mean, if this were really about public safety, the drug companies would openly share all this information and allow any country in the world to manufacture its own vaccines. But that only happens in Dreamland. In the real world today, drug companies are blatantly interested in only one thing: Corporate profits. They don't want to share profits with anyone, so they resort to publicly assaulting Indonesia's reputation rather than working out an honest business deal or going "open source" with the intellectual property.
Make no mistake: Drug companies see a bird flu pandemic as nothing more than a profit opportunity, and they will intimidate, threaten and cajole anyone who stands in the way of more profits. Right now, Indonesia is being targeted for daring to stand up against the greed and corruption of western drug companies, and the U.S. press is going right along with the deception, as usual, by refusing to ask critical questions about why Indonesia needs to protect itself from Big Pharma exploitation.
In my view, every nation around the world needs to be questioning its loyalty to western intellectual property laws. Nations should refuse to recognize all patents on genes, seeds and medicines. Those things should belong to the people, not the wealthy elite, and nations that play along with the rich, white elitist corporate patent game will only find themselves bankrupt and diseased, having surrendered their health and wealth to American and European drug companies that seek only more power, profits and control... no matter what the cost in human lives.
When the next pandemic really does strike, we may lose 10 percent of the human population while drug companies bicker over who owns the patents on the medicines to save whoever's still left standing. I honestly believe that most drug companies would rather see millions of people die from disease than have to give up their patents and profits. The drug business is a for-profit business, and there's simply no profit in doing what's right for the community at large. There's only profit in the exploitation, ownership and control of genes, drugs and vaccines.
It's interesting that western nations claim Indonesia must "share" its virus samples, and yet when it comes down to the products manufactured from those samples, drug companies certainly aren't interested in "sharing" their profits or patents with anyone. You see, when capitalist corporations were in Kindergarten, nobody taught them how to share.
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