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Biotechnology R&D: Policy options to ensure access and benefits for the poor

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  • Carl E. Pray
  • Anwar Naseem

Abstract

The majority of biotech research and almost all of the commercialization of genetically engineered crops has been done by private firms based in industrialized countries. The dominance of the private sector in biotechnology research and product development has raised concern in developing countries that their farmers – particularly poor farmers – may not benefit from biotechnology either because it is not available or is too expensive. This paper examines the consequences of the emergence of a few large companies as the leaders in the commercialization of biotechnology and analyses a number of concerns about who benefits from biotech research. It reviews the status of crop biotechnology research worldwide and analyses the influence of intellectual property rights and market concentration on the development and diffusion of new technology. The paper explores the potential of public-private partnerships recommends policy measures and investments that could focus more biotechnology research on the problems of the poor and alleviate some of the concerns about the impacts of biotechnology. This paper was prepared as background material for the 2003 issue of The State of Food and Agriculture, which has the theme “Agricultural Biotechnology: Meeting the Needs of the Poor?” Several companion papers are also available in the ESA Working Paper series.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA) in its series Working Papers with number 03-08.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fao:wpaper:0308

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Related research

Keywords: Agricultural research; Biotechnology; Developing countries; Development policies; Economic development; Innovation; Product development; Technological changes;

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References

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  1. Timo Goeschl & Timothy Swanson, 2000. "Genetic use restriction technologies and the diffusion of yield gains to developing countries," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(8), pages 1159-1178.
  2. Greg Traxler, 2004. "The Economic Impacts of Biotechnology-Based Technological Innovations," Working Papers 04-08, Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA).
  3. Michael Lipton, 2001. "Reviving global poverty reduction: what role for genetically modified plants?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(7), pages 823-846.
  4. Pray, Carl E. & Fuglie, Keith O. & Johnson, Daniel K.N., 2007. "Private Agricultural Research," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, Elsevier.
  5. Pray, Carl E. & Ribeiro, Sharmila & Mueller, Rolf A. E. & Rao, P. Parthasarathy, 1991. "Private research and public benefit: The private seed industry for sorghum and pearl millet in India," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 315-324, August.
  6. Pingali, P. L. & Traxler, G., 2002. "Changing locus of agricultural research: will the poor benefit from biotechnology and privatization trends?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 223-238, June.
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