Does biotechnology represent a risk for food security? Check out the chapter written by Shujie Feng, Xin Shu, and Ningning Zhang

The innovations in the field of biotechnology have undoubtedly many benefits. However, as it is often the case with sensitive and controversial fields like this one, the saying one man´s pain is the next man´s pleasure might prove to be disturbingly true when the interests of all relevant stakeholders are not sufficiently considered. The authors Shujie Feng, Xin Shu, and Ningning Zhang in their chapter “The Protection of Biotechnological Innovation by Patent in the United States, Europe, France, and China: A Comparative Study from the perspective of the TRIPS Agreement” in the book “China´s Influence on Non-Trade Concerns in International Economic Law” draws the attention to the thin line between the interests of business sector and common interests of the society in the field of biotechnology. In particular, the authors address the issue of farmers´ rights and food security, which might be endangered in the case of an absolute protection of intellectual property rights over biotechnological innovations in the agricultural sector. The importance of this issue has been recognized at international as well as national level. For this reason, the exception included in the World Trade Organization´s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights enables the States to exclude plants and animals from patentability. For instance, the Chinese law makes a consequent use of this option when it excludes not only plants and animals but also all plant and animal inventions from patentability. Many are the States and regional organizations, such as the European Union, France or China, that make use of the possibility to introduce their own sui generis systems for the protection of plant varieties, often following the model of the Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. These sui generis systems of protection enable the States to devise a system of protection taking into consideration the socio-economic needs and possibilities of the country and its population. If carefully drafted, the States are able to balance the interests of farmers with the interests of agribusiness. Such a careful balancing is necessary to guarantee the food security for farmers, while not to undermine the country´s efforts in the field of biotechnological innovation.