Jilara (jilara) wrote,

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Scariest book in a while

Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" is scaring the crap out of me, as a botanist and ethnobotanist in particular. Why? Because it points out how, essentially, you can't avoid agribusiness running your life, or at least your food. I was aware of some of these ramifications as far back as the 1970's, but things are escalating out of control.

Things I've learned so far include:
Biodiversity of food plants is being lost at a rate that should alarm anyone who's familiar with things like the potato famine.
Large organizations like the EU, and the Dept of Agribusiness, um, Agriculture, are run by corporate profit motives that will probably eventually come back to bite us. Details? Read the book.
It is possible for agribusiness companies to sue farmers for unknowingly growing crops that have *patented genes that were spread to their crops by pollinators in the vicinity* and WIN, essentially forcing them to trash their crops because they are growing a patented gene without paying royalties. Or pay "damages" for accidentally growing patented genomes, even though they're saving seeds from their own plants, that were pollinated without their knowledge. After all, ignorance is no excuse.

Now, here's an interesting questions, for those of you who like to speculate in oh, the legal aspects of genocide. There are research organizations that have been traveling the globe, collecting DNA material from indiginous peoples, and returning it to their masters, who then *patent the genome.* Supposedly in case it contains genes that could help in something like the fight against hereditary diseases, etc. Now, let's say that in some mythic future, one of these organizations decides that these people whose genomes they've patented can't reproduce without paying for rights to do so. Or if illegal offspring, whose genetics include patented genomes, exist, can they order the destruction of the patented "genetic material" a.k.a. person? There's a plot of a science fiction book or movie in here...

Lest you say it could't happen, I remind you that the Soviets attempted to make crop plants grow better by broadcasting Communist propaganda to the fields, and anyone who disputed this theory got hauled off for attitude reallignment. And justifying eliminating an indiginous race? Hey, happens a lot. Weird things happen in the world, under whatever guise. All depends on who wants to exploit them.

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