Golden Rice and the Right to Good Food: Health, Property, and Power in GMO Patenting

Samuel Haughton 

My presentation will explore the implications of developments in the field of biotechnology on questions of the limits of technology, the problem of the commons and the tension between advancements in health products like Golden Rice (rice that has been genetically harbored to contain more vitamin A, intended for use by poor farmers in developing countries) and the multinational companies that possess the sovereignty to distribute or deny them to those who need it. This particular case opens up many questions concerning the place of technology in modern society, the role of science in global health and traces some interesting sketches of what I think will be central concerns in a practical ethics appropriate to what I like to call the « age of immersion ».


Enserink, Martin. “Tough Lessons from Golden Rice.” Nature, no. 5499, 2008.

Freese, Bill, George Kimbell et. al., Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers: A report by the Center for Food Safety and Save our Seeds. 2013.

Frick, Walter. “Study: Green Advertising Helped BP Recover From The Deepwater Horizon Spill.” Harvard Business Review, 5 February 2014,

Koepsell, David. Who Owns You? The Corporate Gold Rush to Patent Your Genes. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

Resnik, David B. The Price of Truth: How Money Affects the Norms of Science. Oxford UP, 2007.

Stein, Haley. “Intellectual Property and Genetically Modified Seeds: The United States, Trade, and the Developing World.” Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property, vol.3, is. 2, 2005.

Stich, Stephen P. “The Recombinant DNA Debate: Some Philosophical Considerations.”  Philosophy & Public Affairs, is. 3, 1978.

Solar, O and A. Irwin. “A conceptual framework for action on the social determinants of health.”  World Health Organization. 2010,

Witten, Mark. “Does patent law help or hinder medical innovation?”, Nexus Magazine, Fall-Winter. 2012,