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Science for food, climate protection and welfare: An economic analysis of plant breeding research in Germany


  • Lotze-Campen, Hermann
  • von Witzke, Harald
  • Noleppa, Steffen
  • Schwarz, Gerald


We analyze the economic effects of plant breeding research in Germany. In addition to market effects, for the first time also effects of reduced CO2 emissions due to productivity increases are being quantified. The analysis shows that investments in German plant breeding research in the period 1991–2010 have reduced the global expansion of agricultural area by 1–1.5 million hectares. This has led to reduced CO2 emissions of 160–235 million tons. The economic value generated by plant breeding research, through increased production and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, is estimated at 10.8–15.6 billion EUR in the same period. This can be translated into a social rate of return on research investment in the range of 40–80% per year. Projections for the period 2011–2030 generate a return rate in the range of 65–140% per year. Investments into plant breeding research in Germany are highly profitable from a societal point of view. At the same time, our results show significant under-investments in agricultural research in Germany. These results provide a good justification for policy-makers to reverse funding cuts for public agricultural research over the last decades and to improve institutional conditions for private research, e.g. through better protection of intellectual property rights.

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  • Lotze-Campen, Hermann & von Witzke, Harald & Noleppa, Steffen & Schwarz, Gerald, 2015. "Science for food, climate protection and welfare: An economic analysis of plant breeding research in Germany," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 79-84.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:136:y:2015:i:c:p:79-84
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2015.02.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

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