IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Biotechnologies in agriculture and forestry: Governance insights from a comparative systematic review of barriers and recommendations


  • Pelai, Ricardo
  • Hagerman, Shannon M.
  • Kozak, Robert


The application of biotechnological innovations has increased in agriculture and forestry over the past two decades. Numerous benefits of biotechnologies are documented; however, implementation is controversial and continues to face technical, biophysical and societal barriers. The longer history of agricultural biotechnology holds potential lessons for emerging proposals in forestry, and vice versa. Using a systematic review and content analysis of the scholarly literature in agriculture and forestry (235 articles) between 1989 and 2017, we compare these two sectors in terms of justifications for the use of biotechnologies, barriers to and recommendations for implementation, and types of evidence considered. The primary benefit of biotechnologies identified in the agricultural literature is food security, whereas forest productivity and adaptation to climate change are the most common motivating justifications in a forest context. We find a relatively greater emphasis in the forestry literature on regulatory and legal barriers. Both fields emphasize recommendations to address barriers related to lack of knowledge and governance processes despite relatively less emphasis on these items as identified barriers. Relatively few (32%) forestry articles were informed by insights from the social sciences and humanities as compared with 51% of those in agriculture. We discuss the implications of anticipated public opposition to tree biotechnology and associated perceptions of risk unique to trees. We also discuss biotechnology governance dilemmas within an “upstream” approach, highlighting the need for meaningful ways of involving stakeholders, rights holders and different publics at the earliest possible stage of the implementation of biotechnologies.

Suggested Citation

  • Pelai, Ricardo & Hagerman, Shannon M. & Kozak, Robert, 2020. "Biotechnologies in agriculture and forestry: Governance insights from a comparative systematic review of barriers and recommendations," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:forpol:v:117:y:2020:i:c:s1389934119303259
    DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2020.102191

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hajjar, Reem & Kozak, Robert A., 2015. "Exploring public perceptions of forest adaptation strategies in Western Canada: Implications for policy-makers," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 59-69.
    2. Andy Stirling, 2007. "Deliberate futures: precaution and progress in social choice of sustainable technology," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(5), pages 286-295.
    3. Smith, Lisa C. & El Obeid, Amani E. & Jensen, Helen H., 2000. "The geography and causes of food insecurity in developing countries," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 22(2), pages 199-215, March.
    4. Wouter Poortinga & Nick F. Pidgeon, 2005. "Trust in Risk Regulation: Cause or Consequence of the Acceptability of GM Food?," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 25(1), pages 199-209, February.
    5. Geoffrey Barrows & Steven Sexton & David Zilberman, 2014. "Agricultural Biotechnology: The Promise and Prospects of Genetically Modified Crops," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(1), pages 99-120, Winter.
    6. Mort Webster & Andrei Sokolov & John Reilly & Chris Forest & Sergey Paltsev & Adam Schlosser & Chien Wang & David Kicklighter & Marcus Sarofim & Jerry Melillo & Ronald Prinn & Henry Jacoby, 2012. "Analysis of climate policy targets under uncertainty," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 112(3), pages 569-583, June.
    7. Wouter Poortinga & Nick F. Pidgeon, 2004. "Trust, the Asymmetry Principle, and the Role of Prior Beliefs," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 24(6), pages 1475-1486, December.
    8. David Moher & Alessandro Liberati & Jennifer Tetzlaff & Douglas G Altman & The PRISMA Group, 2009. "Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: The PRISMA Statement," PLOS Medicine, Public Library of Science, vol. 6(7), pages 1-6, July.
    9. Adam Corner & Nick Pidgeon & Karen Parkhill, 2012. "Perceptions of geoengineering: public attitudes, stakeholder perspectives, and the challenge of ‘upstream’ engagement," Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 3(5), pages 451-466, September.
    10. Guillaume Peterson St-Laurent & Shannon Hagerman & Robert Kozak, 2018. "What risks matter? Public views about assisted migration and other climate-adaptive reforestation strategies," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 151(3), pages 573-587, December.
    11. Hanjra, Munir A. & Qureshi, M. Ejaz, 2010. "Global water crisis and future food security in an era of climate change," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 365-377, October.
    12. Jepson, Paul R & Arakelyan, Irina, 2017. "Developing publicly acceptable tree health policy: public perceptions of tree-breeding solutions to ash dieback among interested publics in the UK," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 167-177.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Weiss, Gerhard & Hansen, Eric & Ludvig, Alice & Nybakk, Erlend & Toppinen, Anne, 2021. "Innovation governance in the forest sector: Reviewing concepts, trends and gaps," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C).
    2. Teresa Paiva & Maximiano Ribeiro & Paula Coutinho, 2020. "R&D Collaboration, Competitiveness Development, and Open Innovation in R&D," JOItmC, MDPI, vol. 6(4), pages 1-18, October.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Pelai, Ricardo & Hagerman, Shannon M. & Kozak, Robert, 2021. "Whose expertise counts? Assisted migration and the politics of knowledge in British Columbia’s public forests," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 103(C).
    2. Petit, Joshua D. & Needham, Mark D. & Howe, Glenn T., 2021. "Cognitive and demographic drivers of attitudes toward using genetic engineering to restore American chestnut trees," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    3. Wouter Poortinga & Nick F. Pidgeon, 2006. "Exploring the Structure of Attitudes Toward Genetically Modified Food," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 26(6), pages 1707-1719, December.
    4. Noel T. Brewer & Sarah E. Lillie & William K. Hallman, 2006. "Why People Believe They Were Exposed to Biological or Chemical Warfare: A Survey of Gulf War Veterans," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 26(2), pages 337-345, April.
    5. Brad Love & Michael Mackert & Kami Silk, 2013. "Consumer Trust in Information Sources," SAGE Open, , vol. 3(2), pages 21582440134, June.
    6. Jeremy L. Jelliffe & Boris E. Bravo-Ureta & C. Michael Deom & David K. Okello, 2018. "Adoption of High-Yielding Groundnut Varieties: The Sustainability of a Farmer-Led Multiplication-Dissemination Program in Eastern Uganda," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(5), pages 1-21, May.
    7. Elizabeth T Cafiero-Fonseca & Andrew Stawasz & Sydney T Johnson & Reiko Sato & David E Bloom, 2017. "The full benefits of adult pneumococcal vaccination: A systematic review," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 12(10), pages 1-23, October.
    8. Santos Urbina & Sofía Villatoro & Jesús Salinas, 2021. "Self-Regulated Learning and Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments in Higher Education: A Scoping Review," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(13), pages 1-12, June.
    9. Oded Berger-Tal & Alison L Greggor & Biljana Macura & Carrie Ann Adams & Arden Blumenthal & Amos Bouskila & Ulrika Candolin & Carolina Doran & Esteban Fernández-Juricic & Kiyoko M Gotanda & Catherine , 2019. "Systematic reviews and maps as tools for applying behavioral ecology to management and policy," Behavioral Ecology, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, vol. 30(1), pages 1-8.
    10. Xue-Ying Xu & Hong Kong & Rui-Xiang Song & Yu-Han Zhai & Xiao-Fei Wu & Wen-Si Ai & Hong-Bo Liu, 2014. "The Effectiveness of Noninvasive Biomarkers to Predict Hepatitis B-Related Significant Fibrosis and Cirrhosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Diagnostic Test Accuracy," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(6), pages 1-16, June.
    11. Obsa Urgessa Ayana & Jima Degaga, 2022. "Effects of rural electrification on household welfare: a meta-regression analysis," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 69(2), pages 209-261, June.
    12. García-Poole, Chloe & Byrne, Sonia & Rodrigo, María José, 2019. "How do communities intervene with adolescents at psychosocial risk? A systematic review of positive development programs," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 194-209.
    13. Kenneth Gillingham & William D. Nordhaus & David Anthoff & Geoffrey Blanford & Valentina Bosetti & Peter Christensen & Haewon McJeon & John Reilly & Paul Sztorc, 2015. "Modeling Uncertainty in Climate Change: A Multi-Model Comparison," NBER Working Papers 21637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Jie Zhao & Ji Chen & Damien Beillouin & Hans Lambers & Yadong Yang & Pete Smith & Zhaohai Zeng & Jørgen E. Olesen & Huadong Zang, 2022. "Global systematic review with meta-analysis reveals yield advantage of legume-based rotations and its drivers," Nature Communications, Nature, vol. 13(1), pages 1-9, December.
    15. Bishal Mohindru & David Turner & Tracey Sach & Diana Bilton & Siobhan Carr & Olga Archangelidi & Arjun Bhadhuri & Jennifer A. Whitty, 2020. "Health State Utility Data in Cystic Fibrosis: A Systematic Review," PharmacoEconomics - Open, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 13-25, March.
    16. Subramaniam, Mega & Pang, Natalie & Morehouse, Shandra & Asgarali-Hoffman, S. Nisa, 2020. "Examining vulnerability in youth digital information practices scholarship: What are we missing or exhausting?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    17. Wesam Salah Alaloul & Muhammad Altaf & Muhammad Ali Musarat & Muhammad Faisal Javed & Amir Mosavi, 2021. "Systematic Review of Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Cost Analysis for Pavement and a Case Study," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(8), pages 1-38, April.
    18. Claudia Peters & Agnessa Kozak & Albert Nienhaus & Anja Schablon, 2020. "Risk of Occupational Latent Tuberculosis Infection among Health Personnel Measured by Interferon-Gamma Release Assays in Low Incidence Countries—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 17(2), pages 1-16, January.
    19. Sehee Kim & Mihyeon Park & Sukhee Ahn, 2022. "The Impact of Antepartum Depression and Postpartum Depression on Exclusive Breastfeeding: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis," Clinical Nursing Research, , vol. 31(5), pages 866-880, June.
    20. Hirotaka Iijima & Masaki Takahashi & Yuto Tashiro & Tomoki Aoyama, 2018. "Comparison of the effects of kilohertz- and low-frequency electric stimulations: A systematic review with meta-analysis," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(4), pages 1-19, April.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:forpol:v:117:y:2020:i:c:s1389934119303259. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.