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Where Is That Oil-Eating Enzyme Now That We Need It?

By James Donahue

Back in the 1970s Ananda Chakrabarty, a microbiologist in General Electric’s Schenectady, N.Y. laboratory, created a microbe that can eat large volumes of petroleum.

Chakrabarty knew that at least four strains of the pseudomonas bacteria contained enzymes that enabled them to break down hydrocarbons, the major ingredients in oil. He crossed these strains to create what he called a “superbug” that he said could eat a large quantity of oil in the event of a major oil spill.

The bacteria drew international attention when Chakrabarty applied for a patent. The U.S. Patent Office denied his application because the patent code precluded patents on living organisms. The case went before the U. S. Supreme Court where the court in a 5-4 landmark decision ruled in favor of this patent.

The court ruled that “a live, human-made micro-organism is patentable subject matter” under the existing law.

That court ruling opened the door for a rush of patents on genetically modified micro-organisms and every new development in the new field of genetic medical research. Thus some research laboratory owns the patent rights to just about any conceivable genetic alteration of the human body in potential medical technology. And the Monsanto Corporation holds the patents on nearly all of the GMO seeds used to grow most of the world food crops.

The court decision, based on Chakrabarty’s discovery, has strangely given big corporations exclusive ownership of world crops and any future genetic applications to improve human health and quality of life. The ruling, which hardly was noticed by the world press, has turned into a disaster for much of the human race.

We uncovered all of this tomfoolery by the high court and the big corporations that now hold these patents while researching possible solutions to the British Petroleum oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Chakrabarty said he created his “superbug” to help clean up major oil spills. Why hasn’t British Petroleum called upon General Electric Company to apply this amazing oil-eating bacteria to the disaster area instead of spraying hundred of thousands of gallons of a toxic chemical designed to disperse the oil into tiny particles?

The dispersant, known as COREXIT, is so toxic scientists fear it will affect human and animal health in the region. They warn that the chemical can cause damage to red blood cells, the kidney and liver in humans. The marine life caught up in all of this probably has no chance of survival.

Rather than break up the crude oil that is gathering in large globs under the water, we also are wondering why British Petroleum hasn’t brought a fleet of supertankers to the scene and used them to suck up the oil, separate it from the water, and then process it for conventional sale on the world market. We heard of a similar spill, we believe it was on the Persian Gulf a few years back where this technique was used with great success. There was a big cover up to that “disaster” and the use of the tankers was so successful, the spill remained a well-kept secret until now.

Surely there are solutions to the Gulf Oil issue. The appearance of an inability by professional oil people to fix the mess they created makes us wonder if this entire disaster hasn’t been a deliberate act of sabotage.