Renowned biodiversity expert to speak at UCGS seminar

Two seminars on technology and globalism with biodiversity expert Pat Mooney, each modified to suit its audience, will be presented by the University Consortium on the Global South at York tomorrow, Sept. 29, in 305 York Lanes.

The two-hour talks, which start at 10:30am and 2:30pm, are based on Mooney’s work from the past 30 years, including his path-breaking book The ‘ETC’ Century: Erosion, Technological Transformation, and Corporate Concentration in the 21st Century (2001) published by the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group) of which he is executive director.

pat mooneyLeft: Pat Mooney, biodiversity expert

“We are faced with, good or ill, a technology wave coming towards us,” Mooney said in a 2003 speech to the Intermediate Technology Development Group. “It is the biggest technology wave the world has ever seen. It is the manipulation of all the materials, living and non-living, at…the nanoscale….” This development, says Mooney, will have serious implications. “The diversity of agriculture and human culture are bound together. It is up to all of us – as governments and communities and individuals – to prize diversity.”

The 10:30am seminar, “Breaking Waves: How to control technological tsunamis in an era of globalization 1400 to 2100”, will be oriented to scientific and social concerns about the use of nano-technology; the 2:30pm seminar, “Biodiversity, Biotech and the Marginalized”, will be tailored to look at the global economic implications.

In his book, Mooney looks at how three major forces are shaping the 21st century: erosion of our ecosystems, human cultures and equitable societies; technological transformation of the critical elements for human survival; and the corporate concentration that is compelling mergers and alliances that cut across traditional industrial sectors.

The author or co-author of several books on the politics of biotechnology and biodiversity, Mooney has received several awards including The Right Livelihood Award (the “Alternative Nobel Prize”) in the Swedish Parliament in 1985 and the Pearson Peace Prize from Canada’s Governor General in 1988. He was also a recipient of the American “Giraffe Award” given to people “who stick their necks out”.

Mooney is widely regarded as an authority on agricultural biodiversity and new technology issues. Together with Cary Fowler and Hope Shand, he began working on the biodiversity in 1977. In 1984, the three co-founded Rural Advancement Foundation International, whose name was changed to ETC Group in 2001. ETC Group is a small international civil society organization (CSO) addressing the impact of new technologies on rural communities. ETC has offices in Canada, the United States, Mexico and the UK, and works closely with CSO partners around the world.

The UCGS creates an open space for debate and critical inquiry for students, faculty members, non-governmental organizations, social activists and policy-makers. The seminars are free and do not require pre-registration. For further information, or to register for colloquium updates, contact Miguel González at or 416-736-5237. More details on Wednesday’s seminars are available at the UCGS Web site.