Past JLTP Abstracts - Volume 2006 Issue 2


Organization and Legal Regimes Governing Seed Markets In the People's Republic of China

Muriel Lightbourne

China accounts for 21% of the global population, and 9% of the global arable area under cultivation. This country has succeeded in reaching self-sufficiency in food production, proving incorrect agricultural economist Lester Brown’s prediction that China would become heavily reliant on food imports. However, it is argued that food security came at a price for China, both in terms of missed opportunities to focus more on cash crops and in terms of environmental impact. A shift in the model of production has nonetheless occurred, providing more incentives for individual farmers to choose which crops to grow based on the crops’ comparative prices. The participation of China in several international organizations and treaties, in particular the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (“WTO”), has also contributed to a recent reassessment of China’s priorities. Whereas sustainable agriculture is becoming a preoccupation of the Chinese authorities, WTO requirements prevent China from continuing to shield its agricultural sector from external competition.

The country report submitted by Chinese authorities to the Food and Agriculture Organization (“FAO”) International Conference on Plant Genetic Resources, held in Leipzig in 1996, constitutes a good introduction to the evolution of the legal approach to biodiversity and seed markets in China. This report stated that the laws dealing with agricultural resources would have to be gradually adopted before 2000.

This Article will first briefly describe the main crop outputs and the organization of seed markets in Part II, before describing, in Part III, the new legal environment of seed production. Part IV focuses on soybean germplasm exchanges in an attempt to appraise whether the approach followed by China within the FAO, tending to grant access to this germplasm through bilateral agreements rather than through the FAO Multilateral System, is a beneficial one, both for China and for the international community.

Teaching a Live Synchronous Distance Learning Course: a Student Focused Approach

Ellen S. Podgor

This article describes Professor Podgor’s experiences, many unexpected, in doing a live synchronous videoconference class in the fall of 2005. The course was a pilot project arranged through the Brandeis School of Law in Louisville and Georgia State University College of Law. Professor Podgor was to teach international criminal law to students at Georgia State and Louisville, simultaneously, and another professor would in return teach a First Amendment class to students at both institutions. The following provides an organized synthesis of the experiences of professor Podgor, with an eye toward providing “best practices” to those who may be about to embark on a like experience, and for those who are first considering the concept of distance learning.


Innovation and the Role of Universities in Commercializing Research Results

Paul A. David

This piece contains the transcript of a WILL-AM Focus 580 radio broadcast with speaker Professor Paul David that occurred at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on October 30, 2006. Topics included the role of universities in pursuing both fundamental and applied knowledge, problems that universities encounter when they attempt to commercialize their research, and the observed lack of profitability arising from such attempts at commercialization. The following comments have been lightly footnoted to provide background sources and edited for grammar. Professor David and Focus 580 host David Inge were given the opportunity to edit their own comments, and this transcript is published with the generous permission of both speakers and WILL-AM station manager, Jay Pearce.


Nanoscale Materials: Can (and Should) We Regulate The Next Industrial Revolution

Kim C. Lobring

The anticipated impending proliferation of commercial nanotechnology applications has stirred concern over the uncertainties of the impact of nanomaterials on human health and the environment. A variety of different regulatory regimes are in place to limit the health and environmental impact of naturally occurring particulate matter. However, naturally occurring particulate matter fundamentally differs from the synthetic nanomaterials likely to find commercial value. Naturally occurring nanomaterials are typically chemically inert. Commercially valuable nanomaterials, on the other hand, will be valuable because of some specific chemical reactivity.

This Note proposes to examine existing regulatory regimes as applied to new nanomaterials, as well as the effectiveness of the voluntary disclosure program for commercially used nanoparticles proposed by the EPA. Part II contains background information on nanomaterials: what they are, why they behave differently from traditional chemical formulations, the level of governmental interest in their development, and a discussion of recent toxicity studies for a very limited group of nanoparticles. Part II also contains an examination of the existing regulatory regimes that may apply to new synthetic nanomaterials and the voluntary disclosure regime recently proposed by the EPA. Finally, Part III offers suggestions as to the wisdom of relying on the existing regulations, whether the proposed voluntary disclosure scheme would represent a worthwhile improvement, or if a third, more extensive option may be necessary to ensure human health and environmental safety. To address these questions, Part III also contains an examination of the Precautionary Principle and Cost-Benefit Analysis as policy rationales behind regulatory decisions. Ultimately, a regulatory posture is proposed that is designed to encourage voluntary reporting by industry participants to ensure sufficient information to make informed decisions about the use of nanomaterials on a material-by-material basis.

A New Wave of Police Interrogation? "Brain Fingerprinting," The Constitutional Privilege Against Self-Incrimination, and Hearsay Jurisprudence

Erich Taylor

BF testing is an examination designed to determine if particular information is familiar to a test subject in a specific context (such as that of a crime). Essentially, a BF test asks a suspect’s brain if it is familiar with a particular place, time, or action, and does so using brain monitoring technology that is nearly impossible to deceive.

Along with its technological innovations, BF raises some thorny constitutional questions. Among the most significant constitutional issues are the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination (“privilege”), which even strong supporters of the BF technology concede is problematic in the context of BF testing, and how BF test results are viewed under current rules regarding the admissibility of hearsay.

Although BF is a relatively underutilized technology in the field of criminal justice, these constitutional issues are rapidly rising to the forefront of the legal consciousness in America. This Note aims to probe further into the implications of the expanded use of brain fingerprinting. Specifically, this Note will first attempt to answer the question of whether a compulsory BF test, issued against a suspect’s will, would violate that suspect’s constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. This Note will also examine whether BF test results of one suspect would be admissible in legal proceedings against a second suspect under current hearsay jurisprudence. Finally, Part IV will recommend certain judicial and legislative actions, and Part V will provide some concluding thoughts.