The Privatization of Crop Diversity
Chapter 2: Patents, Agricultural Innovation and Sustainable Development
2.1 INTRODUCTION This chapter assesses the theoretical proposition that economic law reforms providing for exclusion rights do not necessarily evolve in the direction of promoting efﬁcient outcomes and beneﬁts for the affected communities, as convincingly asserted by Demsetz in ‘Toward a Theory of Property Rights’.1 On the contrary, the privatization of plant genetic resources may fail to enable effective crop research and domestic innovation that is suitable for developing countries’ agriculture. This chapter analyses the central literature on law and economics including: the elaboration of property rights theories relevant for intellectual property policy-making in the ﬁelds of biotechnology and agricultural research;2 and the literature on sustainable agriculture, food security, crop diversity conservation and development. The purpose of this review is to set the background that is necessary to analyse relevant international negotiations and agreements, which have different objectives and overlapping developments. Given the paramount importance of the long-term sustainability of technological solutions to current problems, the analytical framework incorporates the concept of sustainable development as the cornerstone against which the efﬁciency of law reforms, including patent law reforms, must be evaluated. It also takes into account static and dynamic efﬁciency effects and the distributional consequences of strengthening exclusion rights in biological materials, 1 H. Demsetz (1967), ‘Toward a Theory of Property Rights’, The American Economic Review, 57/2, 347–59. 2 This review includes references to patent law doctrines and focuses on economic and legal arguments that justify a particular coverage of patent law in terms...
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