Tag Archives: aid

Licensing and Patents for Green Technology and Drugs

The Seed Magazine ‘panel’ (who?) was asked How can intellectual property be adapted to spread green tech?

Their short answer starts by looking at drug licensing (the last sentence is quite shocking):

By World Trade Organization law, if a patented drug can improve public health in a developing country, it’s available for compulsory licensing. That means that developing countries can make generics of the drug while paying a small royalty instead of the full fee to the patent-holder—a practice that makes patent-holding companies deeply uncomfortable. To date, the only drugs so licensed have been antiretrovirals to fight AIDS in Africa.

The panel then go on to look at the possibility of, and issues with, extending this form of licensing to also cover ‘green tech’:

Strong patent laws have significant benefits. Should companies lose trust in patents—should they fear that their ideas will no longer be financially respected as theirs—they have an incentive to make the ideas corporate secrets instead of publicly available patents. The European Patent Office foresees the burgeoning of such legally protected secrets should patents be rendered less binding.

Making technology patentable and thus profitable has indeed been a good way to encourage companies to invest in ideas that serve the public good. However, when billions in the developing world who could benefit from these ideas cannot afford the current system, we need to consider how it can evolve.

Charitable Donations: The Problem of Restricted Funds

By donating funds to disaster-specific charitable organisations and campaigns we restrict the use of our funds to the relief of that problem only. This can cause long-lasting issues for charities and worldwide disaster recovery efforts in the future.

To ensure the charitable help best, the charitable should ensure they give unrestricted funds that are not earmarked for specific disasters.

[Médecins Sans Frontières] has already received enough money over the past three days to keep its Haiti mission running for the best part of the next decade. MSF is behaving as ethically as it can, and has determined that the vast majority of the spike in donations that it’s received in the past few days was intended to be spent in Haiti. It will therefore earmark that money for Haiti, and try to spend it there over the coming years, even as other missions, elsewhere in the world, are still in desperate need of resources. […]

The last time there was a disaster on this scale was the Asian tsunami, five years ago. And for all its best efforts, the Red Cross has still only spent 83% of its $3.21 billion tsunami budget — which means that it has over half a billion dollars left to spend. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s money which could be spent in Haiti, if it weren’t for the fact that it was earmarked. […]

If a charity is worth supporting, then it’s worth supporting with unrestricted funds. Because the last thing anybody wants to see in a couple of years’ time is an unseemly tussle over what happened to today’s Haiti donations, even as other international tragedies receive much less public attention.

Ending Foreign Aid to Africa

Foreign aid to Africa has turned the continent into a ‘giant welfare state’ and is one of the direct causes for the rise in poverty rates from 11% to 66% in recent times.

This is according to African author and economist Dambisa Moyo as she adds her voice to the growing group of learned economists calling for an end to foreign aid to Africa.

An interview with Moyo, for the magazine Guernica, offers a new way to look at foreign aid and its impact on the receiving country and peoples.

I think the whole aid model is couched in pity. I don’t want to cast aspersions as to where that pity comes from. But I do think it’s based on pity because based on logic and evidence, it is very clear that aid does not work. And yet if you speak to some of the biggest supporters of aid, whether they are academics or policy makers or celebrities, their whole rationale for giving more aid to Africa is not couched in logic or evidence; it’s based largely on emotion and pity.

via Arts and Letters Daily