Agricultural biotechnology has great promise for poverty reduction, both through direct and indirect effects, with considerable flexibility in striking differential balances between these two sets of effects to reduce aggregate poverty according to regional and agroecological contexts. Failing to capture this potential would be both a serious missed opportunity in the struggle against poverty and a risk that the competitiveness of smallholders in developing countries be further weakened relative to that of other producers and other countries. As the large gaps in the use of agbiotechnology across countries and the biases in crop and trait innovations indicate, the current situation is one of massive market and government failures for potential developing country and smallholder users. However, meeting the institutional requirements to overcome these failures is highly demanding. The effort to use biotechnology for poverty reduction will consequently fail or succeed not so much depending on the ability to progress in biological sciences as on the ability to put in place the necessary public and private institutions for the generation, transfer, delivery, regulation, and adoption of biotechnological innovations favorable to poverty reduction. Since weak institutional development is an integral feature of underdevelopment, and a pro-poor bias in developing country institutions has been notably lacking, this poses particular difficulties in achieving success that needs to be pro-actively addressed. In what follows, we identify the institutional innovations that are needed for this purpose.
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