Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Biutopia in Nanoputia

Published: October 1, 2007, Author: MHirch

Modern Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World could run the disingenuous title of a new novel. Presented as a simple traveller’s narrative into nanocountry.The facts related would not be on trivial issues but concern mind-boggling questions, such as: Why should you break an egg to make an omelette?

Genetics, robotics and nanotechnology are the technologies of the 21 century. The pirates of the modern scientific age are not keen on “discovering” foreign countries, robbing food and capturing people. They are pushing new frontiers in unknown territory, the capital of which is knowledge. Genes the more material treasure. First discovered the genetic material then gets patented. Ensuing adventures in laboratories lead the modern conquistadors into invisible, very small scale territories. There they manipulate matter on atomar level to hold the key to health and happiness, find the best genes to achieve longevity of the body and eventually create their own fictional island nations. More like a biutopia maybe.

Main target areas of biotechnology industry and genetics research are indigenous territories. Indigenous traditional knowledge promises immense commercial benefit from nature. Moreover much of life’s genetic diversity exists among indigenous peoples and in indigenous territories, which are havens for biodiversity- so called mega diversity zones.
On indigenous territories researchers will find the genetic diversity, human, animal and plant, necessary for their research projects. Apart from potentially possessing rare genes, above-average suffering from „important“ diseases or medical condition makes indigenous people prime candidates as subjects of scientific curiosity in some research projects.

Researchers running these projects discuss the unique questions raised concerning those genetic research projects amongst themselves. Indigenous peoples are rarely at the table to represent own views.

Repeatedly, without indigenous peoples’ knowledge or consent, corporations have engaged in genetic theft. These biopirates were claiming research and patent rights over genetic material of plants, animals as well as medicinal and agricultural knowledge.

In order to prevent any further damage and injustice from the extraction of genetic resources from indigenous territories or indigenous peoples, first and foremost, special laws need to be created. For the time being, indigenous peoples have to assert their own sovereign power to protect their own resources and lives against corporate commodification.

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