Intellectual Property Rights and Trade in the Food and Agricultural Sectors
Introduction: New Agro-technologies Require New Legal Protection
For thousands of years, new seeds and new foods have been exchanged and traded without any legal regulation of intellectual property. Huge improvements in seed breeding resulting in increased harvests (like the ones resulting from the so-called Green Revolution in the 1960s) have been achieved just by “brown bagging,” sharing, experimenting, sometimes stealing, and imitating. However, at the end of the 1970s, biotechnology was increasingly perceived by governments as an exciting field of technological innovation that would lead to renewed economic growth and restore international competitiveness for western countries. The huge economic potential of this new field of technology would however only be unlocked, so it was thought if biotechnological inventions were to receive proper legal protection. In the landmark case of Diamond v. Chakrabartyconcerning the patentability of a genetically...
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