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Far from being at a standstill, the instruments for the private appropriation of nature, which have been increasingly denounced by environmental and peasant movements for decades, are advancing and are developed more and more. The implications and threats they represent against biodiversity are extremely negative, and of course, native seeds do not escape them. For this reason, the 6th Native Seed and Family Farming Festival held in Uruguay organized a Table on the Financialization of Nature, aiming to have discussions and warn about these threats.
Isaac Rojas, Friends of the Earth International´s Forests and Biodiversity Program Coordinator was one of the speakers at the activity and he started by making a strong statement: "They have made us believe that when we talk about biodiversity, we are only talking about little birds and plants". And he added that subscribing to this idea is to "artificially divide nature and people". Biodiversity is also "all the knowledge that comes from a long time ago which allows us to know when, how and with what we should plant a seed", he added.
The environmental activist believes that making this division benefits the interests of groups that aim to obtain big economic profits at world level. The genetic manipulation of living beings started with this end, "not because of scientific curiosity", said Rojas, "but aiming to take over this genetic information", for profit.
A tool applied to this market initiative are patents: "Patents are a mechanism through which invention rights are recognized. They are a monopoly right to produce that is granted for a certain period of time over an invention that the recipient can prove they invented, which can be industrially applied", he explained.
But the new thing is that these monopoly rights are being granted over forms of life, over genes, over the functions of nature. And therefore biodiversity "becomes an object of all these laws and free trade agreements, because they see they can get a profit from it". Specifically, the "free trade package" includes seed laws, warns Rojas. "These are very tricky, because we imagine that they will protect exchanges among people, that they will protect native seeds from GMOs, but this is not the case. In fact, with these laws, seeds start to be considered illegal; it is illegal to trade them, to exchange them and even to produce them".
In turn, financial markets start to take over nature: "This happens thanks to climate change, under a "sin and pray to make it even" logic. If I sin, but pray, I make it even, then I can continue doing the same. If I´m a mining company with concessions and a huge mine in Papua New Guinea and I´m destroying this country, but I say that I´m helping with money to protect a wild area in Nicaragua, I can start selling the gold I sell as "green" gold", and it doesn´t matter if the Papua New Guinea communities can´t drink water or are full of allergies or are displaced outside their territories".
But in addition, "I can generate carbon credits with the new forest I´m protecting, because I claim that this forest has the capacity to absorb carbon, and therefore I´m helping to reduce climate change": "The causes of this climate change continue, and they are even considered as good", concluded Isaac Rojas.
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