Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Climate Change

Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Climate Change

Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series

Edited by Joshua D. Sarnoff

This innovative research tool presents insights from a global group of leading intellectual property, environment, trade, and industrial scholars on the emerging and controversial topic of intellectual property and climate change. It provides a unique review of the scientific background, international treaties, and political context of climate change; identifies critical conflicts and differences of approach; and describes the relevant intellectual property law doctrines and policy options for regulating, developing, or disseminating needed technologies, activities, and business practices.

Chapter 25: Food

Geoff Tansey

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, intellectual property law


After decades of relative neglect, food has become a major policy concern, even in the rich Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. One cause was the major food price spike between 2006 and 2008, and the ensuing increase in hunger and political unrest. Another was the 2015 deadline for meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The first of these goals is the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. The target is to halve the proportion of hungry people in the world between 1990 and 2015 and a majority – 72 out of 129 – of the countries monitored by FAO had achieved the MDG target by June 2015, with developing regions as a whole missing it by a small margin. However, the tougher target set at the 1996 World Food Summit of halving the number of hungry people was missed by a large margin globally, with only 29 of those 72 countries meeting it. Even in rich countries like the United Kingdom (UK), concern has grown due to the vulnerability of the food supply system in the face of fuel-delivery interruptions, the political impact of rising prices and the growing costs of obesity. Climate change will exacerbate these concerns, by disrupting established farming, fishing and herding systems. In turn, choices over food provisioning could either help solve or worsen climate change. Food, along with water, is clearly critical to our subsistence. We humans can satisfy our need for subsistence through a huge variety of farming systems, diets, businesses and social and cultural patterns.

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