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Seed Patenting

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Food politics covers majorly the political aspect which ranges from production, control and regulation to inspection and food distributions. Over past, studies shows that such food politics may be affected by societal ethics, cultures and generally the environmental misunderstandings on proper ways of farming and proper agricultural regulations (Bhalla & Landy, 2002).

Agricultural policy is usually established by the relevant authorities in governments of different countries all over the world. The concerned bodies do play significant roles in the entire process of production. They are further responsible of ensuring food safety, in terms of consumption, and the general distributions to the public. Over past, governments of many countries have power to regulate the agricultural policies. The government gives a mandate to the relevant bodies to regulate the proper food storage and general presentation of foodstuffs to the public. Enforcements of such rules and regulations have been widely influenced by the frequent outbreaks of food poisoning. Cases of food poisoning have therefore led to a mandatory inspection of food by most governments before it reaches the consumers (Cummings, 2008).

To articulate cases of food shortage, quality and the quantity of the produce, government had to come up with appropriate measures such as the use of modern farming technologies. This included the use of factory farming techniques and further, introduction of seed patenting. However, despite the measures laid by the government being beneficial, critics from the opposing side were there.

Technological advances that are developed to come up with better production of food have been marred by controversial issues politically. For instance, factory farming techniques have often faced criticisms from opponents, who believe that such methods increases uncertainties of food borne diseases not to mention other shortcomings to its supply as well as environmental deterioration. According to the critics, the environmental degradation is mainly as a result of frequent use of ammonia and gases emitted from greenhouses such as carbon dioxide and methane. Currently, food politics has taken another direction. Introduction of genetically modified food has faced criticism from the opponents. Controversies aroused since critics belief that the use of genetically modified food stands a risk of gene transfer and food consumption (Davis, 2000).

Literature review

Patents refer to monopoly rights given for a period of time. This is a very strong right and once a party is given, others are totally excluded until the expiry of time duration. Seed patenting therefore is the right a company is given to produce, sell and distribute the seeds for a limited time period. Once this right is given, others are totally excluded from producing the same product or selling it. Seed patenting is also known to exclude farmers from saving seeds. Questions hereby arise from not only the excluded parties but also general public, as to why governments opt to guarantee rights to specific companies. Also, they tend to establish the importance of seed patenting and how the patenting rights influences them, not only politically but also economically and socially (Korten, 2001).

Findings

From the regular research programmes undertaken, it was established that most governments gives patents rights to individual parties so as to facilitate a prompt follow up incase of situations such as food poisoning. Also, provision of patent rights enables the relevant authorities to establish whether quality seeds are provided to the customers or not (Ellix Katz, 2006).

According to most governments, seed patenting is aimed at improving the annual produce. This is generally in accordance with the World Trade Organization which mandates the governments of member countries to give patent rights for the entire inventions involving products such as seeds. It should however be noted that patent rights are granted to firms that duly fulfill the requirements laid down for the acquisition of patent rights.

Member countries of WTO may exclude from such inventions if the patentable inventions exploits the public. This implies that those rights excluded are those that go against the societal morality. Over past, patent protections by most governments do imply that farmers are excluded from the right to possessing resources that are genetically modified. Farmers or generally individuals who opt to save seeds are deemed to committing an intellectual property crime that under normal circumstances punishable by law (Morris & Robert, 2009).

The introduction of food patenting has generally been disadvantageous to the traditional farmers. Usually, farmers have had a culture of saving their best seeds for cultivation in the next season. Introduction of GMO seeds by the WTO therefore implied that farmers were deprived of saving seeds. This act by the WTO really evoked serious political and cultural differences. Majority of individuals were against the idea since the whole processes were politicized. Instances of corruption have been witnessed in many countries across the world. Allocations of patent rights have therefore attracted favorism of some parties due to some shared interests. Political differences have hence emerged since in every country, there are always people who are totally against such social evils. They struggle for their rights through mounting of campaigns and educating the public on their rights (Nestle, 2007).

Despite seed patenting improving the levels of production; economy has in one way or another been affected. This is usually as a result of the prevailing differences which increases time wastage as they try to harmonize their differences. Corruption cases also play a vital role towards the decline of the country’s economy.

Cultural dimensions have further been tampered with by the introduction of seed patenting. First, some communities have over past had a culture of saving seeds for the next seasons. Their culture was therefore altered when a law by the WTO was established to bar them from saving seeds but propel them towards the use of patented seeds. Additionally, the practice of different governments engaging in social evils such as corruption is against the conscience of most societies (Shiva, 2000).

A study case in India shows that the use of seed patents has fostered a great threat to food security in the nation. Despite India being suitable for farming, many people cannot afford the patented seeds. This has then affected the country’s economy. The negative economic growth can be attributed to majorly three factors, one of them being the rising cost of cultivation, rampant increase in the prices of commodities and thirdly inadequacy of credits to small scale farmers.

Conclusion

The use of seed patents has forced most farmers into gene revolution. The streamlined agricultural activity has led to cultivation of few crops. Reforms ought to be taken to grant farmers the rights to save their own seeds. Their rights ought to be strengthened. Strengthening them involves doing away with governmental punishments of those who opt not to use the genetically modified seeds.

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