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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 6, 2004

GMOs: Prospects for Productivity Increases in Developing Countries

Robert E. Evenson

There are two mechanisms by which modern genetically modified organism (GMO) products can affect productivity in developing countries. The first is the ‘Genes for Rent’ mechanism where a recipient country agrees with a GMO company to incorporate a GMO product (e.g., a Bt gene in cotton varieties) and pay a technology fee. The second is the ‘Transgenic Breeding’ mechanism in which National Agricultural Research System (NARS) breeders use modern biotech methods marker-aided breeding, genetic maps, and genomics research to produce GMO traits of economic value in crop varieties. The first mechanism requires little skill on the part of the recipient country (the GMO supplier will incorporate the gene into a number of varieties). But these GMO products are of little value in “traditional” crop varieties. Few countries have the Intellectual Property Rights or regulatory regimes at present to support this mechanism. The second mechanism is very demanding of skills by NARS breeders. Only a few NARS programs (notably China, India, Brazil, Argentina, and a few other countries) are investing in these skills. The promise of GMO-based productivity gains in developing countries is thus constrained. Only a few countries are positioned to pursue both mechanisms.

Published Online: 2004-5-6

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