Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Geertrui Van Overwalle, Leuven University, Tilburg University has written on A Man of Flowers: A Reflection on Plant Patents, the Right to Food and Competition Law.
ABSTRACT: The present paper explores the multi-layered relationship between plant patents, the right to food and competition law. The present contribution takes the view that the growing tendency to appropriate agricultural crops through intellectual property (IP) – thereby making a pivotal shift from plant breeder’s rights to patents – has possibly led to hampering effects on the access to food by poor and disadvantaged groups, particularly in low-income countries. Human rights, in particular the right to food, might act as a welcome instrument to restore the balance between the private demand for a fair reward and the public interest in sustainable food supply. However, when making a human rights approach more exacting, and when translating the right to food into IP mechanisms facilitating access to food, competition law might come into play, adding a layer of complexity and uncertainty to this delicate balancing act.