Did you know that if you have children you are an international criminal? You have violated intellectual property laws by infringing on the copyrights of companies that have been granted patents on the human genome. You have replicated that gene sequence by having children without the permission of the owners of those gene sequences. As bizarre as it sounds, it's absolutely true: having children is a violation of patent law.
This has come about because those at the U.S. Patent Office seem to have lost their collective minds. They have allowed companies and individuals to gain ownership of intellectual property that should never have been granted to a private organization or individual. Some things belong to nature -- like the gene sequence of a human being. Man didn't create it. There's no Einstein who created the human gene sequence, put together some DNA and made human beings. People are not an invention; they are a creation.
Intellectual property, and patents in particular, are intended to cover inventions; things that we were the first to create, not something we stumbled across because we have the right equipment to detect them in the natural world. Clearly, genes are already in existence. We did not invent them; nature did. And yet, people and organizations have been granted patents on seeds from nature.
No patents on seeds
Those of you familiar with the subject know I'm talking about basmati rice, a type of rice native to India. It has been harvested for centuries throughout India and Southeast Asia. But a few years ago, a U.S. company filed for a patent on basmati rice and the U.S. Patent Office said, "Sure enough, you own it." That company then proceeded to try to shut down the harvesting and farming of basmati rice in India. They said, in effect, "All you farmers out there? You owe us a royalty now. We own the patent on this seed." Luckily, the Indian government intervened and thwarted the patent by having the rice listed under the European Commission's regulations that protect regional foods.
But the fact that the patent was issued at all illustrates how intellectual property
has spiraled out of control in the United States and other countries. If you wonder why companies are granted patents for the human gene sequence or for seeds, here's the reason: It's because corporations are in charge, and they run governments
. Who do you think runs the Food and Drug Administration? It's the drug companies. Who do you think runs the U.S. Department of Agriculture? It's the farming, beef and the dairy industries.
Take a look at every single decision the USDA, the FDA, and various government departments have made: they benefit big business. It's all about not just protecting business, but helping big business become more profitable.
The arrogance of modern man
You know what it tells me when humanity tries to take credit and ownership of things from nature? That mankind thinks it's smarter than nature; that men think they are gods who own nature
and feel they can exploit nature for any purpose they desire. This is the attitude of a majority of the human population today, and certainly it is the attitude of those who are in power, like those who run big corporations and governments. They say, "Nature is there for us to exploit." This is reflected in the intellectual property
laws today, which say, in effect, that we own nature and that anything we happen to stumble across is from that point forward our "property."
It is this attitude that allows people to go out and plunder the planet; strip the planet of its minerals, raw materials and clean water, then dump polluted water back in to the rivers, streams and oceans; to use clean air and return only toxic waste, jet fuel exhaust, car exhaust and coal plant exhaust into the atmosphere. Corporations say, "This piece of paper from the U.S. Patent Office says I own this gene sequence, this seed, this piece of land." It's amazing.
Native Americans had it right when they laughed at the white man who said, "We'll trade you these beads for Manhattan Island." The Native Americans thought, "Nobody owns Manhattan Island, nobody owns the land, nobody owns the planet. If you want to give us these beads in order to think you own a piece of land, go for it." They didn't know the white man was serious. White man said, "Okay, now we're going to build a fence and defend ourselves against you all the way to the other coast. Then we're going to set up these tiny reservations and put you on them, and allow you to call them your homeland."
We are guests on this planet
In my view, we don't own anything on this planet. We are guests here; we are lucky to be here, to have a planet that has all of this water and air, all of this wonderful green life all around us; wherever you turn, there is life on this planet. In the oceans, on the mountains, across the plains, in the jungles and even in places where you wouldn't think you would find life, like in the frozen tundra of the north and at the bottom of the oceans, where volcanic vents are spewing boiling water.
We have a duty to take care of this planet. We have a duty not to own it or think it's our intellectual property, but rather to respect it and honor it. Right now, we take that for granted. We cut down trees and use them as resources. We dig up coal and burn it. We take water out of the environment, pollute it, then dump it back into the environment. And yet we don't pay Mother Nature
for any of this. If we take all these resources from the planet, we should give it something in return. We should replace and replenish these resources. At the very least, we should offer thanks for it.
Traditional herbalists -- whether they're Native American, Aborigine, Australian, South American, Incan, Mayan or from any other culture -- would ask plants for permission when they harvested them from the natural environment. They would thank the plant when they took its leaves, roots, or flowers, or rhizomes. Today our corporations say, "We own the planet, and we'll take what we want. We'll punish anybody else who tries to grow this plant because we own its intellectual property." There is a big difference between asking permission from nature and saying, "We own nature and we do with it what we want." But that is the attitude prevalent today.
Nature will find balance
Our modern world -- our so-called technologically advanced world -- is so advanced that we think we own the trees, rivers, streams, oceans, the lands, the seeds and the gene sequences. But we're in for a big surprise here, because Mother Nature has a way of reminding people they are not in control
, a way of correcting the imbalances. We've been exploiting Mother Nature in a systematic, aggressive way for a couple of hundred years. We've already had a huge, destructive, negative impact on the planet in this short time.
The planet is going to rebalance itself one way or another. We are the guests here, and if we don't remember that, Mother Nature will remind us of it. It will most likely happen in a gentle, nudging way -- like global climate change
, infectious diseases, global pandemics and food supply shortages. Maybe there will be other little reminders, like global water shortages, typhoons, earthquakes and changes in weather patterns that affect the food supply. It will likely be these types of things that kill a lot of human
beings. Not only is this is going to keep happening, but I think it's going to accelerate. We as human beings are creating the conditions that will cause these devastating events.
When we treat animals inhumanely -- when we corral them together in cramped pens and slaughter them for food, when we feed cattle the ground up remains of dead animals and chicken feces -- which is a USDA-approved practice -- we create an environment that is ripe for infectious disease, mutation and infection. If you think the flu of 1918 was bad, wait until you see the next pandemic that comes along. And when a pandemic gets out of control, when a virus becomes a global infectious agent, there's not much you can do about it. All the intellectual property in the world can't save you from an infectious disease.
Even the most advanced technology in the world cannot overcome the repercussions of the disasters we have set into motion on this planet from being the egotistical, aggressive version of humanity that we have become. I think it all comes back to intellectual property, because it and the laws surrounding it demonstrate a lack of humility and honor for Mother Nature and our natural world. They demonstrate the arrogance of mankind, our non-sustainable business community and our war mongering nations. This arrogance is going to come back to bite us in a big way.
Corporations are destroying our future
When you have companies that violate the laws of nature in the name of corporate profits, you are flirting with true disaster. A good example of this is Monsanto, which developed the terminator seed -- one which will not produce viable seeds after the first generation, thus forcing farmers around the world to buy seed from Monsanto year after year. This sets up a situation where the farmers of the world have only a single season of seed. If something goes wrong in just one production sequence, we have global famine on your hands -- all because they are willing to protect intellectual property for corporate profit. They are willing to distort nature to the point of causing plants to terminate their own seeds, just to make a buck. That is in such gross violation of the very laws of nature, it appalls me that any human being even thought of it. It is an invitation for global disaster.
Who on Earth would actually think of such a concept? To say, "Let's take something from nature that has been reproducing for probably hundreds of thousands of years, and modify it so it terminates its own offspring." To say, "The shareholders will love that one. I can't wait to introduce it to the market and force farmers and third world countries to buy this seed. Oh, what a big profit center that will be." Could any sane person actually do that? I think not: This idea could have only come from clinically insane corporate leaders who have completely lost touch with the planet they live on.
They did it because planting your own seed does not create the dependence on big corporations that are trying to rule this world. Self-replicating seeds which have been saved year after year, generation after generation, throughout every culture on our planet, offer sustainability, freedom and independence
. Corporate America wants dependence
-- it wants centralized control, scarcity, a monopoly; it creates this by forcing people to use things like terminator seeds and by claiming intellectual property over things like the gene sequence of a seed.
The situation has become so bizarre that if you were to go back in time and try to explain to somebody in the 1970s what is happening today, they wouldn't believe you. They'd ask, "What do you mean, someone said they own basmati rice? They have a plant that kills its own offspring? When you have children you're violating patent law? What are you talking about?" Their next question would likely be, "Have you gone mad?"
The answer is yes, we have gone mad. We have let this thing go so far out of control, and we have distorted nature to such an extent that we are creating our own destruction at every level -- physical, nutritional, emotional and definitely spiritual -- and we're doing it all in the name of corporate profits. Corporations need to keep money flowing into politicians' pockets, which in turn keeps the dollars flowing into the corporate coffers. Welcome to the modern world. It's crazier than you think, and it's getting crazier still.
If we don't start exploring ways to hand freedom back to farmers, communities and individual members of our society, to respect and be humbled by these natural resources that we freely take from Mother Nature, then Mother Nature will find a way to balance itself with or without humanity. The question for us is: Do we want to be here?
We must change or be destroyed by our own greed
On our current path, we will destroy our planet and all the nature around us. We will starve ourselves to death because we won't have a food supply, or even a predictable environment in which to grow food. We will poison ourselves with the toxic chemicals we are putting into our environment. We will destroy ourselves with the infectious agents we have created by facilitating the conditions under which they will flourish.
We are committing suicide as a species today. It is well past time to wake up, and the cost of staying ignorant is going to increase exponentially in the decades ahead. Eventually, people will have no choice but to wake up and do something about it. I hope that happens sooner rather than later because when it's too late, it's too late for all of us.
So, what can you do as an individual? You can engage in sustainable consumption, and support those products and companies that have a sustainable model for production. You can use cleaner energy sources. You can stand up against the ridiculous intellectual property climate that we have created today. There are a lot of things you can do, and collectively, if we all do smart things -- if we all wake up and learn to respect nature rather than try to own it -- we can make some positive changes. It's not too late yet. We still have a chance to turn this thing around and find a way to live in harmony with Mother Nature.
We have the communications technology to share this information and to wake people up. We have the scientific knowledge to realize what we need to be doing. We just need the political will to do it, and that power comes from the people. So, do your part: be a wise consumer. Don't support big businesses that are out to exploit nature. I recommend that you don't buy anything from Monsanto, Phillip Morris or Kraft Foods. Forget about Coke and Pepsi. Support small sustainable farms, organic farms, family farms, your local food co-ops and your local farmer's market.
Another, huge step you can take is to have your own garden. Grow heirloom plants, not hybrid plants, so you can save your seeds and use them generation after generation. The very act of saving and using seeds is, in its own way, a respectful ritual for nature. Who knows? Someday you may have to depend on those seeds, because all the other corporate seeds out there have terminated themselves and can't be counted on anymore. So keep saving them, and keep them alive. You will be doing your part to help sustain nature, and human life as well. See the Seed Savers Exchange: www.SeedSavers.org
I know these are serious topics, but these are serious times. There are big issues at stake here. If we don't make the right choices on these issues, then we're going to pay the price for a very long time. We have to wake up and recognize what we're doing in this world, and we have to change our ways. Humanity is not currently on a sustainable path, and if we don't change, Mother Nature will eventually change things for us, causing a massive population drop across the planet.
Remember: if we don't figure out how to live with nature, nature will most certainly figure out how to live without us. We are not a necessary component for this planet. We are not in charge and, frankly, we don't own anything around here. We are just guests.