Pharma, food and innovation – time for a rethink, says Prof Graham Dutfield

Rules on patents and other forms of intellectual property as well as other legal requirements in licensing agreements increasingly enmesh changes across food, farming, medicines, biodiversity and more. These are changing the meaning of property so that seed you might buy, for example, is not yours to do with as you wish. Here Prof Graham Dutfield reflects on why a broader understanding of innovation, and a rethink of these legal frameworks, is needed if all those who could be able to benefit from innovations will be able to do so.

The focus of his work over several decades has been on the governance of technology, knowledge and property in the context of such major global challenges as public health, food security, biodiversity conservation, ecosystems management, and climate change. He continues to engage in the struggle for the rights of indigenous peoples in relation to their knowledge and genetic resources. What we see as normal today has a history and is the result of the interplay of different interests and forces. His most recent book is ‘That High Design of Purest Gold: A Critical History of the Pharmaceutical Industry, 1880-2020‘, which may also hold lessons for the direction in which food system developments are heading.

That High Design of Purest Gold: A Critical History of the Pharmaceutical Industry, 1880-2020. World Scientific, 2020 – for 30% discount use this code when ordering: WSPHARMIND30 (valid until 30 April 2021) Book launch Youtube link:

About Geoff Tansey

I curate the Food Systems Academy, a free, on-line, open education resource to transform our food systems. I was also a member of the Food Ethics Council from 2000-2021 and chaired the independent Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty, which reported in 2015.
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