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Biotechnology and Patent Rights: Seeking the Common Good?

  • Odelia Funke
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)

Abstract

Biological research and its commercial applications are posing fundamental and complex questions for policy-makers, from privacy rights to reproductive rights to issues of whether there is a right to die, and even what constitutes death and how to define a human being. Recombinant DNA (rDNA) presents particularly complex issues across a number of categories: risks (for research as well as distribution and disposal), including intergenerational and long-term ecological effects on both national and international levels; expenditure of public funds for R&D; patenting rights; effects on domestic economies and on the international balance of payments; and effects on academic science. Last, and perhaps most important, are the potentially profound changes to society as rDNA products enter the market — from effects on small farms to changes in reproductive choices to the introduction of wholly new kinds of evidence admissible in court.

Keywords

Civil Society Life Form Patent Protection North American Free Trade Agreement Liberal Government 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    See, for example, Stephanie Chong, ‘The Relevancy of Ethical Concerns in the Patenting of Life Forms’, Canadian Intellectual Property Review, 10, 1 (September 1993): 189–207.Google Scholar
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  3. 9.
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    Public opinion surveys in the US, Europe and Japan show very clear differences in people’s risk perception depending upon the application. RDNA is deemed safer when applied to microbes than to animals or food products or humans. Bernhard Zechendorf, ‘What the Public Thinks About Biotechnology’, Bio/Technology, 12 (1994): 873–5. Research related to germ-line genetic changes is highly controversial, even among those involved in rDNA research. Concerns include disruptions in cell development and growth, and a slippery slope toward eugenics, fuelled (some fear) by an alliance between genetic engineers and big business.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  25. 34.
    Langdon Winner has recently commented on a ‘know-nothing policy’ that abandons any attempt by government to seek the public good, denying that there is an identifiable public good which could serve to guide public policy for technological development. All guidance comes from the private sector, which is to say, the market place. Langdon Winner, ‘Know-Nothing Technology Policy’, Technology Review, 99, 2 (February/March 1996): 55.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Odelia Funke

There are no affiliations available

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