Cultural Colonialism and Biopiracy

February 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I found Dr. Mohanty’s essay to raise some excellent and interesting points.  I have never really considered the the issues associated with globalization from this perspective.  So often our goal in the global north is to export our ‘more ideal” political and social policies to the rest of the world that we do not acknowledge the negative impact that these laissez-faire capitalistic practices have an unintended concequence especially for the poor.  Perhaps the net wealth of an economy increases but this often only serves to increase the gap between the wealthy and the poor.

For many cases there seems to be no better alternative to the current system.  This was highlighted for me by Dr. Mohanty’s discussion of biopiracy.  The conversion of indigenous knowledge into patentable marketable products has a dark side in that the original possessors of the knowledge gain no direct benefit for the distribution of this knowledge.  They are also not hurt by the dissemination of knowledge that leads to a company’s monopoly of the final product.  The initial knowledge separated from the ability to convert it to a final product may also separate it from its wider value.  The knowledge still is useful to the indigenous people in the same way it was before.  The indigenous people in the example shared the knowledge equally amount all.  So at what level should compensation take place.  Should one group of indigenous people be given a share of products, or should it be all indigenous people in that area, or should it be given to a government held in trust.  Where there was no ownership before it becomes impossible to reward and if no ownership can be gained than there can be no profit.  I am playing devils advocate here somewhat so please feel free to argue with what I have written.

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