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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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Copyfight

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September 10, 2010

NY Times Weighs in on Plumpy'Nut

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Back in April I had a pleasant exchange of views with M. RĂ©mi Vallet of Nutriset, who responded to my original posting pointing out that the ready-to-use therapeutic food marketed as Plumpy'Nut was another situation in which the interests of intellectual property and protection of commercial profits was coming into conflict with clear lifesaving needs.

Now Andrew Rice of the New York Times has a magazine article focusing on the company, its product, and the controversies around it. As I noted back in April there are no simple and easy answers to this tension. In Haiti, Rice finds one company that is making its own version of a peanut-based food, while another has become a franchisee of Nutriset.

Rice also touches on the issue raised by Vallet in his response to Copyfight, which was the vast gap between the billions of dollars that would be needed to manufacture any RUTF and the actual dollars that are delivered to Nutriset and its franchises to do actual manufacturing. There are continuing accusations of anti-competitive behavior, and as with any business it's hard to break in where one company totally dominates the market.

For me the most interesting thread in Rice's story isn't well developed, but it's in there. In effect Rice and the people he interviews are suggesting that the real solution is not an either/or proposition but some combination of three contributors: commercial development, charitable work, and grants by major aid agencies and governments. The big unknown is who or what would coordinate such an effort.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Markets and Monopolies


COMMENTS

1. Neighborly on September 11, 2010 1:53 AM writes...

Isn't there another big question? What do you do about the sizable subset of these populations that are allergic to peanuts? It's both unfortunately common and deadly. Any aid effort using a peanut-based food to combat world hunger is basically going to need some way to test for it -- or at least carry around Epi-Pens to save anyone who has an allergic reaction, and some kind of huge database to flag the ones with reactions to skip or give something else to next time. And of course these people don't have ID cards with SSNs ... you'll probably need biometrics.

It gets messy.

Permalink to Comment

2. drwex on September 13, 2010 6:34 PM writes...

Not to put down anyone's problem (I know someone who is allergic to all nuts) the problem is miniscule by comparison. The numbers I've seen suggest that something like 0.8% (eight tenths of one percent) of people in industrialized societies show any reaction to peanuts. In societies where the raw nut is a regular part of the diet the incidence of severe peanut allergy is essentially zero because it was bred out of the population long ago.

Permalink to Comment

3. BEA on September 17, 2010 9:34 AM writes...

In Spain we're studing the Plumply Nut business and it's no fare for hungry people try to put a political problem in terms of an illness problem.
You can read some articles in English at: www.elnegociodelhambre.blogspot.com
Sorry for my English.

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