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Reading: Biocolonialism: Examining Biopiracy, Inequality, and Power


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Biocolonialism: Examining Biopiracy, Inequality, and Power


Ashleigh Breske

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg Virginia, US
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Colonialism has for centuries been a driving force for territorial expansion and economic gains. In today’s globalized economy, there is a continuation of colonial exploitation in areas with great biodiversity through the act of taking indigenous knowledge and biodiversity for profit, also known as biopiracy. Biopiracy is a practice of economic exploitation by powerful multinational corporations (MNCs). These MNCs taking on the identity and power structures of nation-states, and biopiracy becomes a tool of these transnational corporations. The established laws protect those corporations that obtain patents or intellectual property rights more readily than the original indigenous knowledge holders. Biocolonialism has been established through neoliberal trade practices and the whittling away of indigenous control over indigenous knowledge. This is done on the premise that indigenous knowledge is communal knowledge, and not privately ‘owned’, and therefore available to be used by everyone. These communal intellectual property rights have allowed MNCs to coopt indigenous knowledge for profit. Biopiracy can extend to multiple forms of practice. This paper will look at it in the context of drug patents, agricultural gene manipulation, and genetic cell lines.
How to Cite: Breske, A., 2018. Biocolonialism: Examining Biopiracy, Inequality, and Power. Spectra, 6(2), p.None.
Published on 19 Sep 2018.
Peer Reviewed


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