Discussion And Conclusions

Biotechnology may preserve CGD more than conventional breeding. The reason is that biotechnology allows for separation between the act of developing novel crop traits and the process of breeding plant varieties. As a result, a given biotechnology innovation may be incorporated into a large number of plant varieties. This chapter has shown some of the conditions under which this might happen.

Modern biotechnology is still a fairly recent phenomenon, so that empirical evidence about the actual impact on biodiversity is limited. Table 14-1 shows adoption levels and the number of GMYs available in different countries for selected innovations. So far, widespread adoption occurred only for RR soybeans and Bt corn in the United States and Argentina, and Bt cotton in the United States and China. In all these cases, the technology has been incorporated into a large number of varieties, which supports our general hypothesis that biotechnology can preserve CGD. In other empirical cases, technology diffusion is still at an early stage so that conclusive statements are difficult to make. Biosafety regulations for GM crops can play an important role in this respect. The cost of regulatory compliance has become a major component in the overall budget to develop new biotechnologies. In most countries, only the transformation event is regulated, so that the regulatory cost for each technology occurs only once, regardless of the number of varieties into which it is incorporated later on. However, in countries such as India, each GMV is regulated separately. Such variety-specific approval procedures may foster loss of CGD and can be challenged on this basis.

Table 14-1. Number of available varieties for different GM technologies in selected countries (2001/2002)_____
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