The Future Control of Food: A Guide to International Negotiations and Rules on Intellectual Property, Biodiversity, and Food Security

By Geoff Tansey; Tasmin Rajotte | Go to book overview

10

Global Rules, Local Needs

Geoff Tansey

This chapter discusses the democratic deficit that surrounds global rule-making. It then briefly
outlines various scenarios for the future development of the food system and questions the roles
the global intellectual property (IP) rules will play in this. Next it suggests that the current
framework promotes an overemphasis on technological innovation while neglecting the need for
social, political and institutional innovation. Finally, it discusses a range of ethical criteria for
evaluating developments and changes as a way to bring about more equitable outcomes.


Introduction

This century there will be more people, new climate patterns and seismic political changes as new industrial and economic powers emerge on this planet. The challenge of ensuring everyone can eat sustainably and well, without the double burden of undernutrition and overnutrition, will be considerable. The future role of hundreds of millions of smallholder and marginal farmers in meeting this challenge is unclear and the farming systems best placed to do so are contested. Many factors affect the food system from local to global levels – from environmental change to the direction of technological innovation, market structures and trading arrangements. The rules and ongoing negotiations discussed in earlier chapters will play an increasing role in whether or not we are successful in meeting everyone's food needs in a sustainable way. This book has provided a brief guide to these interconnected negotiations, as discussed in Chapter 7, to enable more people to have a greater understanding of what is happening and so be more able to participate in shaping how these global rules develop and monitor the impact they have. The next sections draw out some important issues.


Global Negotiations – A Democratic Deficit

During my work on the UN Security Council,
I had often been struck by a very obvious
imbalance – between the diplomatic resources
and skills of the powerful countries, and every 
one else. … The numerous smaller UN
missions struggle to cover the enormous and
proliferating agendas of the UN General
Assembly, Security Council and specialized

-212-

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