Resisting Intellectual Property (RIPE Series in Global Political Economy)

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Why is it that some countries, such as the United States or Argentina, find it reasonable and politically feasible to allow the technology to be rapidly adopted within their agricultural sectors, while other countries, such as Europe and many developing countries, find it either unreasonable or politically unfeasible? In this article we develop a political economy framework to analyze the formation of agricultural biotechnology regulations. By accounting for the different interests within society and the interactions amongst them, we try to shed light on how the very different regulatory environments for genetically modified organisms GMOs have emerged in the United States, Europe, and developing countries.

Instead, we highlight the roles of other economic interests in framing the debate and influencing the policy-making process. This is crucial.

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Our political economic analysis suggests that the broad social welfare gains from introducing the technology are likely to be distributed amongst many consumers and small farmers—particularly those in developing countries—who may not have strong influence over regulators because of their relatively small individual stakes, lack of expertise, and lack of collective cohesion.

Similar to Prakash and Kollman , we argue that domestic politics caused agricultural biotechnology regulation in North America and in Europe to diverge from each other. Falkner describes the transformation of the European Union EU from a laggard to a leader in the international politics of biotechnology regulation and notes that this transformation stems from a shift in domestic politics.

We argue that this shift is, in part, a function of a change in risk perception induced by those economic interest groups in Europe and elsewhere that stand to lose from the introduction of the technology. Such theories typically take into account the influence that groups of regulated economic agents, such as producers and consumers, have on regulators. In the context of agricultural biotechnology, capture-theory arguments have been advanced on both sides of the policy debates that have continued over the last two decades.

However, given the complexity of effects when biotechnology is applied in agriculture, it is not obvious what the implications would be for regulators if policy were fully controlled by the agenda of either industry or activists. Their objections to the power of Congress to increase taxes without limits, therefore, stemmed in large measure from their fears that the revenues would be used to fund a permanent army and navy. Centinel argued that the new country was going farther towards militarism than its former colonial ruler, Great Britain, where the army could only be commissioned by Parliament for one year at a time.

William Symmes observed that the newly designed Congress was insulated from any check on its authority, and he questioned the acumen of those who trusted that the legislative body would always design its tax policy for the public good: "This body is not amenable to any tribunal, and therefore, this Congress can do no wrong.

It will not be denied that they may tax us to any extent; but some gentlemen are fond of arguing that this body never will do any thing but what is for the common good. He pleaded strongly to the representatives at the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention not to acquiesce in delegating greater sovereignty to the state:.

The paragraph in question is an absolute decree of the people. The Congress shall have power. It does not say that they shall exercise it; but our necessities say they must , and the experience of ages say that they will ; and finally, when the expenses of the nation, by their ambition are grown enormous, that they will oppress and subject; for, sir, they may lay taxes, duties, imposts and excises!

Here sir, I raise two objections; first, that Congress should have this power. It is a universal, unbounded permission; and as such, I think, no free people ought ever to consent to it, especially in so important a matter as that of property. Seething with contempt, Symmes described the type of tax collectors that would harass and burden the people if Americans granted Congress unrestricted taxing power:.

For, sir, I also disapprove of the power to collect, which is here vested in Congress. It is a power, sir, to burden us with a standing army of ravenous collectors, — harpies, perhaps, from another state, but who, however, were never known to have bowels for any purpose, but to fatten on the life-blood of the people. In an age or two, this will be the case; and when the Congress shall become tyrannical, these vultures, their servants, will be the tyrants of the village, by whose presence all freedom of speech and action will he taken away. Symmes' protestations against the unlimited tax-gathering prerogative of the newly designed Congress derived from the deep distrust of government that he and most of the other Antifederalists held.

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Symmes and his fellow libertarians knew from their own experiences and the historical record that governments have an insatiable tendency to expand. To the Federalists and historians like Kenyon, such thinking was negative and counterproductive. The Antifederalists and those who were suspicious of government, however, saw the state as a destructive force, and the allowance of such a feature as unbounded confiscatory taxation was intolerable.

Although Symmes reluctantly agreed to support the Constitution after a number of amendments were attached to it, the following passage is a cogent reflection of the fear and distrust that he, and the Antifederalists, felt not only for the newly proposed state, but for governments in general: "In short, we know that all governments have degenerated, and consequently have abused the powers reposed in them; and why we should imagine better of the proposed Congress than of myriads of public bodies who have gone before them, I cannot at present conceive.

Despite the checks and balances built into the federal system, the Federal Farmer claimed that the individual states would provide a superior bulwark to Congress's tax-raising ability. To his dismay, however, the Constitution left no room for the states to thwart the national government from confiscating wealth and raising an army:. Does the Constitution provide a single check for a single measure, by which the state governments can constitutionally and regularly check the arbitrary measures of Congress! Congress may raise immediately fifty thousand men, and twenty millions of dollars in taxes, build a navy, model the militia, etc.

Congress may arm on every point, and the state governments can do no more than an individual, by petition to Congress, [to] suggest their measures are alarming and not right. Many Antifederalists, including Brutus, opposed the large delegation of taxing authority that the central government would receive because it would ultimately destroy the sovereignty of the individual states.

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If state sovereignty were infringed upon, Americans would then find themselves back to their colonial status where they had little control over the imperial government. Pennsylvania's Antifederalists raised concerns about taxation and state sovereignty similar to those raised by Brutus. They charged that under the new regime the states would be unable to prevent the central government from expropriating its inhabitants' property. Under the Articles of Confederation, the states could negate any confederate government levy, but the Constitution rendered them helpless to resist similar federal intrusions.

The ambiguity of the "necessary and proper" and "general welfare" clauses in the Constitution was attacked by "A Federal Republican.

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  7. To give them the power of laying taxes, duties, imposts and exise, by way of providing for the welfare of the United States, and then constitute them judges of what is necessary for these purposes, is giving them power to satisfy at the expence of the states, any whim which ambition or the love of ostentation might suggest to them. But yet every law thus made will be binding: For they have an additional power expressly granted them, "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all the powers vested by this constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or office thereof.

    The Federal Farmer was equally alarmed by the general welfare feature, predicting that it would be a convenient mechanism for legislators to justify additional taxation. While making it easier for the government to inflict taxation on its citizens, the Constitution and its general welfare clause provided no safeguard from abuse, with only revolution as a viable alternative: "[A]nd if they misjudge of the general welfare, and lay unnecessary oppressive taxes, the Constitution will provide, as I shall hereafter shew, no remedy for the people or states — the people must bear them, or have recourse, not to any Constitution checks or remedies, but to that [of] resistance which is the last resort, and founded in self-defense.

    Many Federalists believed that the general welfare clause would limit Congressional taxation to cover only those purposes that served the common good. Brutus trenchantly responded that the nebulous wording of the general welfare clause would allow the government to interpret for itself what the public good was, and how much taxation would be needed to serve it:. I would ask those, who reason thus, to define what ideas are included under the terms, to provide for the common defense and general welfare!

    Are these terms definite, and will they be understood in the same manner, and to apply to the same cases by every one! No one will pretend they will. It will then be matter of opinion, what tends to the general welfare; and the Congress will be the only judges in the matter. He recognized that since everyone has different value scales, the general welfare could never be defined without necessarily infringing on someone's rights.

    He argued that the most despotic government could claim that its tyrannical actions were for the public good: "The government would always say, their measures were designed and calculated to promote the public good; and there being no judge between them and the people, the rulers themselves must, and would always, judge for themselves. The magnitude by which the government could manipulate the general welfare clause to expand taxation was apparent to Centinel: "Whatever taxes, duties, and excises that the Congress may deem necessary to the general welfare may be imposed on the citizens of these states and levied by their officers.

    The Congress [is] to be the absolute judges of the propriety of such taxes, in short [it] may construe every purpose for which the state legislatures now lay taxes, to be for the general welfare , [it] may seize upon every source of taxation, and thus make it impracticable for the states to have the smallest revenue, and if a state should presume to impose a tax or excise that would interefere with a federal tax or excise, congress may soon terminate the contention, by repealing the state law. The legitimate function of government, and how much revenue it should be allowed, was contemplated by "Philadelphiensis.

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