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  5. Dr. Wilhelm Peekhaus Explores the Informational and Material Aspects of Agricultural Biotechnology

Dr. Wilhelm Peekhaus Explores the Informational and Material Aspects of Agricultural Biotechnology

[Image] Dr. Wilhelm Peekhaus Explores the Informational and Material Aspects of Agricultural Biotechnology
In his book Resistance is Fertile, published in April 2013 by University of British Columbia Press, Dr. Wilhelm Peekhaus develops a critical political economic analysis of agricultural biotechnology in Canada that situates empirically and theoretically some of the ways in which both biotechnological information and materiality have been insinuated in the trajectory of contemporary capitalist social relations.

In addition to outlining how the federal government’s Canadian Biotechnology Strategy and corporate practices facilitate the commodification of science in general and of biotechnology in particular, this monograph interrogates the various struggles that have emerged in defiance of the progressive enclosure of agricultural biotechnology. The elaboration of these counterstruggles places particular emphasis on the implications these have for both the biological and the knowledge commons – what the author groups under the broader rubric of the ‘BioCommons.’

As illuminated in the book, agricultural biotechnology continues to elicit a range of resistance in Canada around the following issues: multinational corporations’ control of seeds, the lack of rigorous scientific study of some of the claims made by industry and other biotechnology proponents, a refusal by both industry and regulators to open such information to independent public scrutiny, uncritical media championing of biotechnology, the heavy industry slant and circumscribed scope of information content solicited by and admitted within government consultation bodies, the lack of funding for public good agricultural research, and the enclosing effect that high levels of patentability are having on biological resources and information.

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As most research participants point out, biotechnology is a complex topic and the science that surrounds it has been purposely mystified to discourage average citizens from debating the political, economic, environmental, ethical, and moral issues involved. By asserting a stranglehold on the nature and flow of information about biotechnology, capital and the Canadian government are trying to circumscribe the breadth of issues that might legitimately be debated. Many of the people contesting capitalist-controlled biotechnology therefore believe that their success in responding to enclosures on the BioCommons hinges upon their ability to inject broader knowledge issues into the public debate surrounding this science and its attendant technologies. That is, many activists perceive the need to respond to a substantial information gap in Canada with regard to biotechnology. A number of biotech activists are thus engaging in research and rigorous analysis as well as information dissemination campaigns designed to ensure that those most affected by this technoscience are adequately informed so that they may make their own reasoned decisions.

Rodney Loeppky, professor in the Department of Political Science at York University, writes that “Resistance Is Fertile is an outstanding contribution to the field of biotechnology. Wilhelm Peekhaus weaves the empirical content brilliantly into an enlightening discussion of both political economy and social resistance.”


Resistance Is Fertile Canadian Struggles on the BioCommons
Release Date: 4/1/2013
ISBN: 9780774823104

312 Pages
For more details: http://www.ubcpress.ca/search/title_book.asp?BookID=299173751

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