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Investment in biotechnology and science and technology (S&T) capacity is clearly important for public policy. We have seen the investments done in multiple developing countries not only on GM techniques but on other biotechnology areas and in different crops and organisms, as well as on plant and animal breeding, conservation, and other areas. The public sector and/or national private sector organizations (see list of papers below) have been the primary investors.

In the ISNAR-IFPRI Next Harvest study on genetically modified crops, public research, and policy implications (9), we found that by 2001-2002, there were 209 events in what could be considered advanced regulatory stage in 16 developing countries. Much of these are events of interest to developing countries.

In the paper Agricultural Biotechnology Development Policy and Impact in China (1), Jikun Huang, colleagues from CCAP China, and I revealed that by 1999-2000 there were 51 cases approved for environmental release and 26 ready for commercialization approval. Countries have indeed invested in biotechnology and other sciences as seen in the papers cited in the references below. The case of Latin America is a very compelling, which I will go in greater detail in a later post, as it reflects a multi-faceted picture where politics meet regulation and a contrasting capacity to conduct biotechnology research . Contrasting capacity ranges from none or extremely small in Central America (with the exception of Costa Rica) and some countries in the Andean region, to the advanced capacity of Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.

Because of the fact that many developing countries have invested in biotechnology R&D alone, we have to consider all of the implication of introducing and expanding the scope of regulations–that certainly includes the cost of compliance with biosafety regulations. Unfeasible or unnecessarily rigid regulations will increase the cost of compliance and introduce uncertainty for developers, especially those in the public sector, the national private sector, and even those activities financed by producers themselves. These groups are the ones that are most likely to invest in R&D for those crops and traits of interest to developing countries.

References 

  1. Huang, J., R. Hu, Q.Wang, J. Keely and J. B. Falck-Zepeda. “Agricultural Biotechnology Development Policy and Impact in China” 2002. Economic and Political Weekly. July 2002. Pp. 2756-2761.
  2. Cohen, J., J. Komen, and J. Falck Zepeda. “National Agricultural Biotechnology Research Capacity in Developing Countries” 2004.  FAO ESA Working Paper No. 04-14. Contributing paper to FAO State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) 2004.
  3. Trigo, E. J. Falck-Zepeda, and C. Falconi. 2010. Biotecnología Agropecuaria  para el Desarrollo en América Latina: Oportunidades y Retos. Documento de Trabajo LAC/01/10, Programa de Cooperación, FAO/Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, Servicio para América Latina y el Caribe, División del Centro de Inversiones.
  4. Trigo, Eduardo; Falck-Zepeda, José; Falconi, César; Villarreal, Federico.Estado de la biotecnología agropecuaria en Argentina” 2007. Working Papers Series Washington, D.C. Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Rural Development Unit, Sustainable Development Dept.
  5. Trigo, Eduardo; Falck-Zepeda,José; Falconi, César; Villarreal, Federico. “Estado de la biotecnología agropecuaria en Chile.” 2007. Working Papers Series Washington, D.C. Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Rural Development Unit, Sustainable Development Dept.
  6. Trigo, Eduardo; Falck-Zepeda,José; Falconi, César; Villarreal, Federico. “Estado de la biotecnología agropecuaria en Uruguay.” 2007. Working Papers Series Washington, D.C. Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Rural Development Unit, Sustainable Development Dept.
  7. Falck-Zepeda, José; Zambrano, Patricia; Cohen, Joel I.; Borges, Orangel; Guimarães, Elcio P.; Hautea, Desiree; Kengue, Joseph; Songa, Josephine. “Plant genetic resources for agriculture, plant breeding, and biotechnology: Experiences from Cameroon, Kenya, the Philippines, and Venezuela.” 2008. IFPRI Discussion Paper 762. Washington, D.C. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/dp/ifpridp00762.asp
  8. Falck-Zepeda, Jose´ Benjamin; Falconi, Cesar; Sampaio-Amstalden, Maria José; Solleiro Rebolledo, José Luis; Trigo, Eduardo; Verástegui, Javier. La biotecnología agropecuaria en América Latina: Una visión cuantitativa. 2009. IFPRI Discussion Paper 860SP. Washington, D.C. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/ifpridp00860sp.pdf
  9. Atanassov, A., A. Bahieldin, J. Brink, M. Burachik, J. I. Cohen, V. Dhawan, R. V. Ebora, J. Falck-Zepeda, L. Herrera-Estrella, J. Komen, F. C. Low, E. Omaliko, B. Odhiambo, H. Quemada, Y. Peng, M. J. Sampaio, I. Sithole-Niang, A. Sittenfeld, M. Smale, Sutrisno, R. Valyasevi, Y. Zafar, and P. Zambrano. “To Reach The Poor: Results from the ISNAR-IFPRI Next Harvest Study on Genetically Modified Crops, Public Research, and Policy Implications.” 2004. EPTD Discussion Paper 116. Washington, D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute.  http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/pubs/divs/eptd/dp/papers/eptdp116.pdf
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