The United States has a mixture of policies. It’s calling for liberalization and free trade in many areas. On the other hand, it’s also calling for enhanced protection in areas where the U.S. is strong. Take so-called services like banking. The U.S. is calling for a liberalization of services in the Third World, which would have the instantaneous effect of swamping and overwhelming all Third World banks and financial institutions by western ones, since they’re so much richer and more powerful. That would eliminate the possibility of any national industrial development programs within the Third World. That’s the kind of liberalization that the U.S. is in favor of. It means that Third World economies would be managed by western banks and those who run them and the governments that are tied to them.
On the other hand, the U.S. is calling for more protection in other areas, particularly intellectual property rights, which includes anything from pop music to cinema to software to patents. Right now the U.S. is racing ahead in patenting what may turn out to be parts of genes. The idea is to patent the genes of corn, or for that matter humans, so that future biotechnology, which will involve various kinds of genetic engineering, will be in the hands of mainly U.S. private firms. They will control that field, and they want to make sure it’s protected. So they want long patent rights and so on. That means that drugs, software, new technology, new agricultural forms, any form of biotechnology that may involve health will be in the hands of Merck Corporation and others like them who will make tens of billions of dollars in profits. It means that India which could duplicate a lot of this much cheaper, duplicate Merck drugs at a fraction of the cost, will not be permitted to do it. The U.S. also demands product rather than only process patents, to insure, say, that India’s pharmaceutical industry doesn’t invent a cheaper way to produce some drug — a barrier to efficiency and innovation, but a boon for profits. That’s understandable on the part of the rich. They want to control the future, naturally, and that means control technology.
Keeping the rabble in line - Noam Chomsky