27 May 2016

Intellectual property, secrecy, and death

The Blog

Known for likening the use of patents to exploitation, murder and terrorism, C4SS writer Kevin Carson points out that Monsanto is hiding behind intellectual property to conceal its responsibility for deaths. Desperate to prevent consumers knowing about deadly ingredients in its herbicides, the company needs secrecy.

Most opponents of Monsanto's Roundup chemical product believe glyphosate is carcinogenic - a claim refuted in various scientific studies. The scientific community believes glyphosate is safe, although this says nothing for the safety of Roundup itself, which still accompanies a high rate of cancer among workers.

As reasoned by Kevin Carson at the Center for a Stateless Society website:
legally, Monsanto is required to make public only the active ingredient — glyphosate — itself. In fact the “inert ingredients” are all trade secrets, legally protected by so-called “intellectual property.”
Carson also writes, "the existence of legally protected trade secrets is a weapon against the health and welfare of the public, depriving them of any knowledge of the nature of toxic chemicals they may be exposed to". He compares this with the behavior of companies and governments surrounding shale gas production, writing that in this industry various proprietary ingredients are "also kept secret from the potentially affected public by “intellectual property.”"

In this analysis, libertarian "free market" advocates such as Ronald Bailey at Reason who defend Monsanto's freedom from the apparent cruelties of consumer rights, labeling and transparency are acting hypocritically. While supposedly triumphing individual rights, such libertarians are effectively cheer-leading the state while it crucifies individuals, blindfolding them and refusing them any right to know what is harming their health.

Carson writes such immoral rules do not constitute a "libertarian legal order", where, "given the prevalence of cancer like non-Hodgkin lymphoma among agricultural workers exposed to Roundup, there would long ago have been lawsuits in which Monsanto was compelled to disclose the full list of ingredients in Roundup".

Whether or not glyphosate is the danger, Roundup and the quantities it is used in should be suspected for as long as the apparent connection to cancer still exists.

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