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The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-2004

Agricultural Biotechnology - Meeting the Needs of the Poor?

image of The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-2004

The potential of agricultural biotechnology, especially transgenic crops, to meet the needs of the poor, is explored in this report. An analysis of the socio-economic impacts of technological change in agriculture is discussed, and the safety of transgenic crops for human health and the environment is examined.

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Research and research policy for the poor

Agricultural biotechnology holds enormous promise for addressing a range of technical challenges facing poor farmers in poor countries (Chapter 2). We know from the Green Revolution that agricultural research can stimulate sustainable economic growth in developing countries, but the paradigm for research and technology delivery that made the Green Revolution possible has broken down (Chapter 3). That system was explicitly designed to promote the development and international transfer of productivity-enhancing technologies to farmers in poor countries as free public goods. Global agricultural biotechnology research, by contrast, is dominated by the private sector, which focuses on crops and traits of importance for commercial farmers in large profitable markets.

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