BITS … BITS … BITS … BITS … BITS … BITS – Seeds Of Dissent

It is not only psychotherapy which is under threat of being hijacked by powerful pres-
sure groups within the EC. Even gardening has its profit-motivated predators
manoeuvring to blind the bureaucrats with science.

A couple of years ago in the stock market boom, little seed companies were suddenly
snapped up avidly because there was draft legislation proposed in Brussels which would
give companies the “rights” to demand payment, not just for the seeds they had devel-
oped and sold, but also for any further generations of seeds which sprang from them. It
will be farmers, of course, as well as gardeners who will provide a lobby to prevent this
from becoming law, because it would mean that they would have to pay annual “dues”
to the original company for the seed which they might keep for subsequent years’ har-
vesting. Already the opposition is vocal.

A similar claim to eternal “rights” is also being made over genetically engineered lab-
oratory animals. The Sunday Observer newspaper recently (5.5.’91) carried a report on
the “Oncomouse”, a poor little rodent engineered at Harvard with a special propensity
to contract cancer. Harvard is seeking to “patent” this creature and rake in profits when-
ever breeding takes place. In opposition to this, the Genetics Forum spokesman said,
“We must have a proper public debate before we allow scientists to play God in this
way.”

These astonishing developments in commercial enterprise have led to an equally
astonishing alliance being formed to oppose them: farmers as well as “greens”, animal
rights workers of all persuasions and many religious groups have banded together. It
seems unlikely that the legislation can slip past such a diverse lobby of opponents. And
this is really the point. The parallels with recent moves in Europe to limit the practice
of psychotherapy are obvious. It is equally obvious that the name of “science” is being
invoked to further what are essentially commercial motives. We must not be surprised
if the Brussels bureaucrats go along with this. After all the EEC is fundamentally a com-
mercial concept. But it is vital to oppose them, and from as many angles as possible. As
a feminist myself, I can’t help noticing the specifically patriarchal quality in all three
cases: to place emphasis on ownership through the seed and thus to deny the nurturing
which that seed must have in order to grow is really quite similar to giving a drug instead
of a hug.

Mary Montaut