Customer Review

6 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Deftly argued, but fundamentally flawed, 5 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge (Paperback)
Shiva argues for a "collective intellectual property right", i.e., a state ownership, of any chemical or drug derived from a plant or organism found in a given country. She uses all the right code words designed to raise the hackles of rightousness- words like "racism" and "exploitation" and "diversity"- to in effect argue that people who live in a region- or rather, their rulers- own any and all possible profits that might arise from the use of a natural resource, whether or not they themselves choose to exploit it.
This is an economically naiive argument that doesn't understand that a resource isn't a resource if no one is using it. The book is basically framed as an argument for wealth transfer to the third world, as if that was the only source in the world of useful resources.
In the end, Shiva is arguing against the very system that allowed the exploitation of natural resources for use by humans. If we had to peel the bark from a tree every time we had a headache, we'd go through a lot of trees- and those in colder climates would be out of luck. But Bayer's asprin patent eventually allowed people the world over to buy the synthetic equivalent for pennies.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 25 Jan 2010 12:30:05 GMT
'A resource isn't a resource if no-one is using it' fundamentally misconceives the reality of world knowledge distribution. The point is, such people are using it, in a dynamic and effective way, on the ground. Its appropriation by an IPR system which implies that knowledge must be centrally owned beurocratises and renders inefficient this knowledge use; criminalising people for using the knowledge they have done for ever.

And you don't consider even at all the knowledge which is owned by the corporations which they do not use - because it isn't profitable. Small drugs companies are criminalised for using a patented drug recipe, when the owner of it had no intention of manufacturing a drug for their audience, all the time.

The collective ownership rights already exist in something like a prototype form in the Geographical Indicators that have so far only been applied in some areas, but with some success, certainly in development terms, and without denying the rest of the world their product. This is a reflection of the fact that individual knowledge ownernship models are inapplicable to knowledge which is researched as a group.

Collective intellectual property rights are not incompatible with using that knowledge to exploit natural resources. I don't know why you would think it was! Oh that's right, you are an assumed expert who talks first and is actually quite stupid.
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