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Is Agricultural Research Still A Public Good?

  • Oehmke, James F.
  • Weatherspoon, Dave D.
  • Wolf, Christopher A.
  • Naseem, Anwar
  • Maredia, Mywish K.
  • Hightower, Amie L.

The nature of public agricultural research changed in 1980 when the Bayh-Dole Act allowed universities to retain title to inventions that were created with Federal funds, and the court case Diamond v. Chakrabarty allowed patenting of living tissue and eventually other bio-engineered products. In 1997, over 2,300 new licenses and options were executed on academic life-sciences property. This raises the questions agricultural research still be a public good? This paper is a critical first step in understanding how increasingly private ownership of intellectual property affects the agribusiness environment and the evolving role of public agricultural research institutions. The innovative step in this paper is the development of a formal economic model which represents the role of applied biotech research in the agricultural life sciences. The model is built around neo-Schumpeterian ideas of endogenous innovation and growth. The most salient implications for the role of the public sector are(1)The private sector underinvests in applied R&D activity. (2) Concentration in the large-firm, life-science R&D industry increases over time. (3) The life-science revolution is reducing the number of markets, in the short run. This reduction in the number of niche markets diminishes the role of the public sector. (4) There is a role for the public sector in conducting R&D in niche markets. (5) In the long run, the life-science revolution may also create new niche markets. (6) There is a role for the public sector in the provision of basic research which increases the productivity of applied R&D.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/11821
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Paper provided by Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics in its series Staff Papers with number 11821.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:ags:midasp:11821
Contact details of provider: Postal: Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture, 446 West Circle Dr., Rm 202, East Lansing, MI 48824-1039
Phone: (517) 355-4563
Fax: (517) 432-1800
Web page: http://www.aec.msu.edu/agecon/
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  1. Dinopoulos, Elias & Oehmke, James F. & Segerstrom, Paul S., 1993. "High-technology-industry trade and investment : The role of factor endowments," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 49-71, February.
  2. Moschini, GianCarlo & Lapan, Harvey E., 1997. "Intellectual Property Rights and the Welfare Effects of Agricultural R & D," Staff General Research Papers 5048, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Aghion, P. & Howitt, P., 1989. "A Model Of Growth Through Creative Destruction," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 8904, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  4. Alston, Julian M. & Sexton, Richard J. & Zhang, Mingxia, 1999. "Imperfect competition, functional forms, and the size and distribution of research benefits," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 155-172, October.
  5. Shu-Yu Huang & Richard J. Sexton, 1996. "Measuring Returns to an Innovation in an Imperfectly Competitive Market: Application to Mechanical Harvesting of Processing Tomatoes in Taiwan," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(3), pages 558-571.
  6. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction," Scholarly Articles 12490578, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Segerstrom, Paul S & Anant, T C A & Dinopoulos, Elias, 1990. "A Schumpeterian Model of the Product Life Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1077-91, December.
  8. Mingxia Zhang, 1997. "The Effects of Imperfect Competition on the Size and Distribution of Research Benefits," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(4), pages 1252-1265.
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