The rosy periwinkle and thousands of other medicinal plants have been ripped off from indigenous peoples around the world, most without any effort to compensate or include indigenous peoples in the millions of dollars worth of profit enjoyed by colonial companies. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) addresses this continuous theft. The Obama administration finally signed on, but with reservations (no pun intended). Corporations are rushing to patent seeds . There are NGO's fighting back, but clearly the corpses are winning the war. Meanwhile the limited resources of the commons are rapidly being commodified and turned into profits for pharmaceutical companies and agri-business. Stopping this burn binge would be a done deal if national governments that have signed onto UNDRIP would realize and actualize it's articles. The world is supposedly post colonial, yet the stratification continues, with darkskinned, indigenous peoples on the very bottom and lightskinned invaders on the top. Boyle's tiny addressing of this, two or three pages, (128) tells me that he is not terribly concerned about anything actually stopping the rip-off. Racism and colonialism are still hand in hand, plundering the commons. Boyle uses two or three examples and then refers redundantly to them throughout the book. I think a lot more in depth coverage of this phenomenon is called for. This is the crux of the continuous rape of indigenous people's resources and a major contributor to the extreme stratification of the world's population into the very wealthy, including us grad students (really) and the destitute and truly poor of the third world/underclass.
Vandana Shiva's visit to WSU a few years ago highlighted the seed patenting schemes of Monsanto. We live in a monoculture of wheat and lentils. The grasses and bushes of the pristine palouse have been eradicated, along with their potential as food and medicine. The ethnobotanies collected from modern remnants of the original inhabitants of this area tell of thousands of edible and medicinal plants that are lost or almost gone.
How can you and I do anything about this?
Will UNDRIP ever become reality for Indigenous Peoples?
Is the Indigenous Shaman's knowledge protected? Compensated?
Is the classical romantic author at the bottom of copyright law a fictional being?
The work involved in writing is a shining example of Locke's property philosophy. If combining our labor with facts and stories from the commons to produce original creative writing does not qualify as intellectual property, what does? Blindness to sources, like citation deprivation in a scholarly paper, leads (according to Boyle) to negative effects on efficiency.