Biodiversity, Biotechnology, and Development: Policy Implications
TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE IN AGRICULTURE AND POVERTY REDUCTION: THE POTENTIAL ROLE OF BIOTECHNOLOGY
Alain de Janvry,1 Gregory Graff,2 Elisabeth Sadoulet,1 and David Zilberman1
'Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 207 Giannini Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720; 2 Visiting Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 207 Giannini Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
Abstract: Technological change in agriculture has historically been a powerful force for poverty reduction. We explore in this chapter how biotechnology, as a potentially important new source of technological changes in agriculture, could also be made to fulfill this role. We distinguish between direct effects of technology and poverty that affect adopters and indirect effects that affect others through employment, growth, and consumer price effects. We show that agbio-technology has the potential of providing crops with new traits beneficial to the poor through direct and indirect effects. The poor may not benefit from biotechnology for several reasons including exclusion as a consequence of intellectual property rights, concentration of ownership in the industry, research gaps for traits desired by the poor, and unexplored environmental risks. We conclude that agbiotechnology has potential as a tool for poverty reduction, but that it needs complementary institutional innovations that are lagging relative to current scientific progress. These institutional lags affect the generation, transfer, and adoption of agbiotechnology benefiting the poor. We give an inventory of the institutional innovations needed to reduce these lags and to capture the promise of agbiotechnology for poverty reduction.
Key words: agriculture; biotechnology; poverty.
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