Beyond Plain Packaging
Edited by Alberto Alemanno and Enrico Bonadio
Chapter 12: Patents as a tool to encourage the production of healthier food
The need to supply consumers with healthier food and beverages constitutes an urgent priority as many people in both industrialized and developing countries struggle with obesity and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) caused by the consumption of unhealthy products. This chapter makes the point that patents may contribute to fighting such illnesses. Three proposals are put forward. The first and second proposals give healthy food inventions a preferential treatment with a view to speeding up or facilitating their patenting process. The third proposal would consist of excluding from patentability certain food inventions if it is proven that the relevant products or processes are harmful to human health. Such proposals would comply with the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement and are in line with the general aim of the patent system, namely encouraging (before) and rewarding (later) the creation of inventions really useful to society.
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