Browse Hierarchy SOLM267: Trade, Environment and IPRS
The tragedy of the commons doctrine argues that humans are locked into a system whereby our pursuit of self-interest erodes the commons. But according to a different view, human society is fully capable of managing the commons in ways that protect the commons and benefits us all. Continuous trade and economic growth may eventually lead to an exhaustion of environmental resources. But this is not inevitable and trade relations can be managed in sustainable and mutually beneficial ways. One means to combat this is to accept that institutional intervention and technical progress should be focused so that resources are continuously directed towards environmental improvement. Moreover, the regulation of the environment (as in food, traditional genetic resources, green technologies) affects the trading patterns of both large and small producer countries. This module explores these concerns by studying the interrelation between : (i) the environment (as in food, agriculture, climate, bio-prospecting, and other ancillary rights such as human rights, Nagoya Protocols on climate and biodiversity rules, access and benefit sharing); (ii) trade (as in regulations within the EU, US and WTO, and other UN organisations), and (iii) IPRs (as in patents, plant variety rights, utility models, trade marks, geographical indications and technology transfer). Our environment is of fundamental importance. Activities that derive from our environment (including agriculture, fishing, consuming natural resources) matters more than almost any other productive human activity. Our environment supplies our most basic human needs, and it employs vast numbers of people. Human activities have a transformative effect on the biosphere. Indeed, it has arguably done more than any other activity to give rise to a new era in the Earth¿s history: the Anthropocene. One example is the commercial agricultural sector where farmers are supplied with inputs such as seeds and agrochemicals and advanced new technologies produced by high-tech corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta. The processing of food and other products that are grown or reared by farmers and pastoralists is carried out by transnational corporations. These products are delivered to customers by retailers that may be small and local or are massive operations. The vital role of small-scale farmers especially in the developing countries needs to be acknowledged but all too rarely is. Along all parts of the value chain there is much pressure to innovate and intellectual property rights are an essential feature of the way businesses and markets operate, how investment choices are made and where innovative activities do (and do not) take place. Thus, this module will analyse the legal regulation of such resources from national and international levels, with reference to technology, intellectual property, agricultural and climate policies, and human rights vis-a-vis the global industries. The module is intended to complement substantive modules on the protection of intellectual property. Therefore, students are assumed to have a basic understanding of intellectual property rights.
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