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NORTH AMERICAN BOYCOTT AGAINST RICE TEC CORPORATION CALLED





---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 07:50:47 +0800
From: GRAIN Los Banos <grain@baylink.mozcom.com>



BIO-IPR resource pointer
________________________________________________________

AUTHOR: Nandita Sharma and Allison Campbell, Basmati Action Group
TITLE: North American Boycott against Rice Tec called
IN: submitted as campaign announcement to BIO-IPR
DATE: 29 November 1998
PLACE: Vancouver, Canada
NOTE: Please contact the Basmati Action Group for more information, to 
indicate your support to their campaign or to share ideas on explanding the 
campaign to other countries.
________________________________________________________


BASMATI ACTION GROUP (BAG)
c/o 1957 Kitchener St. Vancouver, B.C. Canada V5L 2W6
Tel. (1-604) 255-4910   E-mail: basmati-action@sfu.ca
Website: http://www.eciad.bc.ca/~lolin/basmati/ 


NORTH AMERICAN BOYCOTT AGAINST RICE TEC CORPORATION CALLED 

November 29, 1998

The Basmati Action Group (BAG) has launched a North American boycott against 
the products of Rice Tec Corporation of Alvin, Texas, USA. Rice Tec claims 
to have invented the basmati rice they sell under the trade name, "Texmati" 
(Rice Tec products also include "Jasmati" and "Kasmati" rice). The purpose 
of the boycott is to heighten awareness of the issue of life-patents, 
organize public condemnation of this process and demonstrate that the 
patenting of life will be costly - not profitable - to those that pirate 
indigenous knowledge and nature's creative capacities. We ask that you 
support the Basmati Action Group in our boycott of all Rice Tec products.

Why support a boycott on Rice Tec?

Basmati rice has been grown in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan for 
centuries. Working with nature's own creative capacities, farmers in this 
area have, over time, cross bred and cultivated this distinct form of rice 
known for  its fragrant aroma and unique taste. For the farmers of India and 
Pakistan, basmati rice is a vital subsistence food and source of income.

In 1997, the powerful United States Patent and Trademark Office accepted 
Rice Tec's application to patent basmati rice (patent # 5,663,484). By 
cross-breeding two basmati rice varieties this corporation insists that it 
has "invented" a "novel" variety of basmati and has patented it as "basmati 
867." The Rice Tec patent covers any basmati variety crossed with a 
semi-dwarf strain grown anywhere in the western hemisphere. Despite Rice 
Tec's claims of 'novelty', "basmati 867" has been derived from Indian and 
Pakistani basmati rice lines rossed with semi-dwarf varieties. The basmati 
varieties used to "invent" Rice Tec's "basmati 867" are farmers' varieties 
bred over centuries in South Asia.  What Rice Tec has done with its patent 
is to pirate what until now had been communally shared and claimed it as 
their own private property.

The crux of the issue is not whether the basmati rice variety bred by Rice 
Tec is "novel" and therefore patentable or not because the facts show that 
it is not. The real issue is that no one should be able to hold a patent 
over a life  form. By taking out a patent on "basmati 867" Rice Tec is 
participating in what has been described as "biopiracy." 

Biopiracy is the theft of indigenous knowledge, the theft of the creative 
capacities of nature and the false claim by patent holders - mostly 
corporations - that they created the life form they have pirated. Biopiracy 
lays the  groundwork for the colonization of creation - of life itself - by 
scientists and, ultimately, the corporations they work for. 

Life-patents further the power of corporations. Imagine a world where 
nothing is grown except crops that a corporation has claimed 'invention' of 
and can profit by. Imagine if nothing is grown without farmers having to go 
to corporations to buy back seeds stolen from them in the first place. Or a 
world where nothing can even grow without the permission of corporations 
(i.e. the "Terminator Technology" that prevents plants from reproducing 
themselves). This is the world that biopirates, and patents like the one on 
"basmati 867" are already helping to bring about!

We need to fight against this trend. BAG is part of a world-wide movement of 
people who are protesting the corporate claims of "invention" that patents 
on life represent. We are not resigned to living in a world where the 
creative capacities of nature, of women and of communities of people are 
systematically denied and pirated. BAG calls for an end to patents on life 
forms that is currently being sanctioned by the World Trade Organization and 
enshrined in both national and international law. 

Victories have been won against corporations that have patented life forms! 
The US National Institutes of Health "disclaimed" its notorious US patent on 
the human cell line of a Hagahai Indigenous person from Papau New Guinea 
(patent # 5,397,696) after popular outrage was organized. The Indian 
government revoked the W.R. Grace Corporation's "species patent" on 
transgenic cotton. In other words, this boycott against Rice Tec can work!

Who is the Basmati Action Group (BAG)?
 
BAG is a grassroots organization that values life in all its diversity. BAG 
is opposed to the patenting of any life forms, anywhere, by anyone. This 
means supporting actions that value and procect ecological integrity, 
indigenous  knowledge and lands, women's rights, the autonomy and 
self-determinacy of people and community-based action. Food forms the 
natural link between community and life. For this reason, recent 
developments in world trade and agricultural policy, life-patenting and 
genetic engineering strike us as attacks on the essence of those things we 
value most.

BAG has been formed to raise awareness about biopiracy, life patents and 
on-going acts of colonialism  - and to work to end these practices. Along 
with many others, we see biopiracy as the "third wave of colonialism" and an 
entrenchment of sexist and racist practices. We recognize that women in the 
South ('Third World Women') continue to bear the brunt of acts of 
colonialism. For over 500 years, the North (the 'First World') has been 
enriched by stealing  from nature and the people's of the South (the 'Third 
World'). This is maintained by present global economic and political 
relations. Most of the world's biodiversity is located in the South and 
biopiracy is an attempt by  corporations to privatize and 'own' what is the 
common heritage of people in the South. BAG is also working to show that 
biopiracy is a form of class conflict with corporations trying to eliminate 
communal property, destroy farmers'  control and supplant nature's creative 
capacities in order to increase their own private profits.

How can I support the boycott on Rice Tec?

Please circulate this notice within your organization and to your 
membership. Talk about biopiracy and the Rice Tec boycott whenever possible. 
Spread the word to your contacts across North America. Support local actions 
against biopiracy. Ask your local stores to stop carrying Rice Tec products. 

Boycotting Rice Tec and its products is one action in the movement to resist 
corporate control over life forms. Raising awareness of biopiracy and 
developing ways of producing and distributing food that are ecologically 
sound and socially just is something we can all contribute to in different 
ways. BAG has also initiated a petition campaign trying to get the Canadian 
government to refuse Rice Tec's US patent on basmati rice and enacting 
strong legislation that prevents the patenting of life forms in Canada. This 
struggle cannot be won without global solidarity - a victory in Canada is 
impossible without simultaneous victories against the World Trade 
Organization, NAFTA etc. BAG is  working in coalition with people's 
organizations in both the South and North to revoke Rice Tec's U.S. patent 
on basmati rice and to stop biopiracy.

Please let us know if we can use your name as a supporter of our campaign in 
our future work.

Any suggestions towards strengthening our objectives and resistance is 
greatly appreciated.

For more information, check out our Web Site!
http://www.eciad.bc.ca/~lolin/basmati/
or call and ask for Nandita Sharma or Allison Campbell at (1-604) 255-4910.
Mailing and e-mail addresses are listed  above.

In Struggle,
Nandita Sharma for the 
Basmati Action Group
 
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Letter to Stores Carrying Rice Tec Products:

November 29, 1998

NORTH AMERICAN BOYCOTT AGAINST RICE TEC CORPORATION CALLED 

The Basmati Action Group (BAG) has launched a North American boycott against 
the products of Rice Tec Corporation of Alvin, Texas, USA. Rice Tec claims 
to have invented the basmati rice they sell under the trade name, "Texmati" 
(Rice Tec products also include "Jasmati" and "Kasmati" rice). The purpose 
of the boycott is to heighten awareness of the issue of life-patents, 
organize public condemnation of this process and demonstrate that the 
patenting of life will be costly - not profitable - to those that pirate 
indigenous knowledge and nature's creative capacities. We ask that you 
support the Basmati Action Group in our boycott of all Rice Tec products.

There are three things you can do to support the boycott on Rice Tec.

1) Remove all Rice Tec products from your shelves immediately, and let us 
know that you have done so.

2) Stop ordering Rice Tec products. Tell your Rice Tec distributor that you 
are not willing to support biopiracy in this or any form.

3) Tell your customers that you are boycotting Rice Tec and why.

To facilitate your cooperation, we are holding an information evening on 
TUESDAY,  JANUARY 26, 1999 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Room #4 at the Mount Pleasant 
Neighbourhood House (800 E. Broadway - near Fraser St. in Vancouver, B.C.). 
This meeting will be designed to give store-operators and staff more 
targeted information so that you may better explain the boycott to your 
customers. Also at this meeting we will distribute copies of a letter for 
your customers, explaining biopiracy and the reasons for the Rice Tec boycott.

Please notify us as soon as you decide to support the boycott.

Included in this call for support (sent to those in Canada) is the petition 
BAG is circulating within Canada. Please photocopy and distribute it. 
Remember, it is important to return completed petitions to the return 
address printed on the bottom. 

Any suggestions towards strengthening our objectives and resistance is 
greatly appreciated.

For more information check out our web site!
http://www.eciad.bc.ca/~lolin/basmati/ 
or call Nandita Sharma or Allison Campbell at (1-604) 255-4910. Mailing and 
e-mail addresses are listed above.

In Struggle,   
Allison Campbell for the
Basmati Action Group


BASMATI ACTION GROUP (BAG)
c/o 1957 Kitchener St.
Vancouver, B.C. Canada V5L 2W6
Tel. (1-604) 255-4910
E-mail: basmati-action@sfu.ca
Web: http://www.eciad.bc.ca/~lolin/basmati/ 


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