Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Film: The Corporation

I was watching the film "The Corporation" two days ago and can seriously recommend it. The film was produced by a number of top-thinkers in the field, all sort of left-ish.

It's a film about environmental impact, horrible worker's conditions and the responsibilities that the corporation should assume in order to minimize those. The film shows that the only responsibility sought is that "responsibility towards the shareholders", not all the stakeholders that have to do with the corporation, like its employees or customers.

The film opens the whole discussion on ownership of human DNA. While a human by itself cannot be patented ( and therefore 'owned' for an amount of time ), the very DNA sequences that make up your body *can* be patented, at least in the U.S., on discovery. There are certain rules along the lines of this, but clearly this is a worrying issue.

Already in software, the patents create an incredibly difficult legal mine-field to navigate. With the speed that these sequences are patented, if the same thing happens on this field of research, there would not be an end to law-suits in any direction, with only the common society suffering from the flow of money being used in the fights between the companies, not for actual research.

Specifically the company Monsanto was mentioned in the film with respect to their product they are developing to increase cow milk production. The product has not been tested thoroughly, is causing birth defects for cows or other diseases and has not been properly tested if it has adverse consequences for people in consumption.

Monsanto is also involved in the famous Terminator seeds. Another call for common sense here.
In one way, society is going forward. In another, very quickly backwards.

I think the whole issue of the corporation is totally misunderstood and the score-card that the corporation is presented is fatally wrong. At the moment, the only scorecard that the corporation will be evaluated against is making money in absurd amounts. There are now laws governing its waste and production and emissions, but it's not enough, because it doesn't require corporations to innovate on what they are doing wrong. Only if the CEO is really responsible is this ever going to happen.

I also believe there is a lot of ignorance around this issue and too much media-control of the corporation. The media, being privatized, will be likely to gain lots of money of corporations for *not* broadcasting news that may damage their reputation. This happened with Fox News as can be seen in the film. Some former employees of Fox retaliated, won a court case. But then the court case was overturned on the basis that it is not illegal for a news company to lie.

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