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