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Chapter 5 Contributions of Public and Private R&D to Biotechnology Innovation

Genetically Modified Food and Global Welfare

ISBN: 978-0-85724-757-5, eISBN: 978-0-85724-758-2

Publication date: 25 July 2011


Purpose – The objective of this chapter is to examine and provide new perspectives on the contributions of public and private R&D to biotech crop improvement.

Methodology/approach – The chapter examines a set of topics that have affected the way that research is undertaken on plant germplasm improvement and how it has changed with the genetically modified (GM) trait revolution.

Findings – Although the basic science providing the foundations for GM crops was undertaken in the public sector, GM traits and GM crop varieties have been developed almost exclusively by the private sector. The biotech events leading to GM traits are currently being developed largely by five companies – all having ties to both the chemical and the seed industries. The GM crop revolution started in North American in 1996 and has spread slowly to the largest developing countries that have large agricultural sectors, including Argentina, China, Brazil, and India, but not to Europe or Japan.

Practical implication – To shed new light on the economic reasons for private sector dominance in GM crop varietal development in selected crops but not in others.

Social implication – Shows how GM traits have contributed to technical change and declining real food prices.



Huffman, W.E. (2011), "Chapter 5 Contributions of Public and Private R&D to Biotechnology Innovation", Carter, C.A., Moschini, G. and Sheldon, I. (Ed.) Genetically Modified Food and Global Welfare (Frontiers of Economics and Globalization, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 115-147.



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