Jared Ingersoll: What do you own?

Intellectual property laws are a rather interesting and relatively new phenomenon that seems to be slowly creeping up and becoming more controlling to the way that we live our modern lives, although many people simply do not notice…

I love my music and am a mad collector of records and CDs. I’ve also recently started purchasing and downloading music through iTunes, and now have a rather substantial collection of digital music that was actually paid for. Then I learned that when I die I, legally, cannot bequeath my collection to my sons – you see I don’t actually own any of the music I paid for in the same way I did when I bought a CD.

Ok, no biggy – it’s just the price of convenience and technology and all that. So on I go in life listening to music and sometime before my demise I may fall ill and be in the need of some cutting edge medical advances; the medication and technology that are used are owned by someone, which is fine – but they also own my DNA. Okay then, I ‘spose I can live with that because, after all, no one has started charging me yet and I am still allowed to use it so on I go unaffected and for the most part happy.

But then we get to the strange world of who owns our food. Your fridge is full of stuff that you bought from the shop but actual ownership of food and crops is serious business as it directly effects your life. Companies that invest heavily in genetically modified foods have absolute carte blanch over what you are allowed to know about the food you eat. Intellectual property rights and commercial-in-confidence laws are rather robust and tightly controlled. Labelling laws however, are sadly inadequate and in some cases comical.

My dilemma is that I love technology and advancements and I’m okay with having someone own my music and someone else own my DNA because they enrich my life. But genetically modified technology, for the most part, does quite the opposite – designed to be controlled in commercial factory environments for massive profits, it leads to really scary questions about who owns the land and the livelihood of the people who work the land!

GM foods spook me because whoever controls our food, controls society. The saying, “we are only three meals from anarchy” resonates with me and if you don’t believe me, look at the spring food riots. Currently we cannot control who owns our food…unless we buy directly from markets or farmers.

Jared Ingersoll, www.danksstreetdepot.com.au

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