Scientific knowledge of food and agriculture in public institutions

Movement from public to private goods

Authored by: Molly D. Anderson

Routledge Handbook Of Food As A Commons

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138062627
eBook ISBN: 9781315161495
Adobe ISBN:


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What is scientific knowledge? Who owns it? In particular, who owns scientific knowledge about food and agriculture, which often has contributions from non-scientists? Can the people who need it access it readily? Such knowledge has become increasingly privatized through the growing proportion of research that is privately funded and corporate influence on public institutions that conduct research on food and agriculture. This is part of a larger issue: Western capitalist countries have commodified knowledge in many ways to twist profits from it, just as land, labor, and humans themselves have been commodified (Elliot and Hepting, 2015; Amin and Howell, 2016). The generation and dissemination of agricultural knowledge, products, and services is big business, with vast sums involved in research, patents, technical services, and teaching, and generous profits involved in the transfer of products. So perhaps it is not surprising that efforts to derive financial returns from these activities are expansive.

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