Monday, June 19, 2006

Naboth's vineyard

Today's first reading for Mass has to be one of the creepiest in the whole Bible. It tells of some poor, ordinary man who had the misfortune of inheriting the vineyard next to King Ahab's property. Ahab wanted to make a deal with Naboth over the vineyard, but his family property was too cherished for any amount of money. Ahab was angry: he could not convince Naboth. Then Ahab's wife Jezebel (yes, the Jezebel) got involved. She acted like a Mafia don, arranging for Naboth to be framed for traitorous blasphemy and stoned to death. Once that was done, she alerted Ahab that he was free to confiscate the vineyard he had coveted.
I read a while ago about a big university laboratory (I think it was a university, but it could have been a corporation) that patented the genome for a certain variety of cacao from Cote d' Ivoir. The farmers whose ancestors cultivated the plant, breeding it for the wonderful properties the variety in question has are now obliged to pay royalties to this foreign institute for their crops! Their ancestral heritage has been co-opted. Ahab lives.

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