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- Biotechnology and Food Systems in Developing Countries

1 This is a written version of a speech presented as the "Invited Presidential Lecture" to the American Society for Nutritional Sciences (ASNS) at the annual meeting in San Diego, CA on April 14, 2003. I would like to thank President Jean-Pierre Habicht for inviting me and Dr. Maureen Mackey of Monsanto for supporting the event. At the time of the address, the author was Professor of Development Studies in the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego. E-mail: [email protected] . 

2 Two especially useful books provide extensive background to the debate reviewed here: Richard Manning, Food’s Frontier: The Next Green Revolution, University of California Press, 2000; and Per Pinstrup-Anderson and Ebbe Schioler, Seeds of Contention: World Hunger and the Global Controversy over GM Crops, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001. 

3 Abbreviations used: GM, genetically modified; MDG, Millennium Development Goals; NGO, nongovernment organization; WTO, World Trade Organization. 

4 These links are not always easy to see because of the structural transformation of economies over the course of economic development. During this transformation, agriculture is a "declining sector" in relative economic importance, as industrial and service sectors grow faster. Still, the growth of agriculture is crucial to development of poor countries, especially to including the poor. This paradox has often been hard to understand on the part of both policymakers in poor countries and managers of donor agencies such as USAID and the World Bank. One of my major academic and advisory roles has been explaining this paradox. For an overview, see my chapter on "Agriculture and Economic Development," in: The Handbook of Agricultural Economics, Volume 2A, (Gardner, B. & Rausser, G., eds.,), pp. 1487–1546. North-Holland, 2002 (available at www.macrofoodpolicy.com). 

5 See my paper on "Agriculture and Pro-Poor Growth" that was prepared in 2003 for USAID, also available at www.macrofoodpolicy.com. 

6 See P. L. Pingali, M. Hossain, and R. V. Gerpacio, Asian Rice Bowls: The Returning Crisis? CAB International in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), 1997. 

7 See Raghav Gaiha and K. Imai, "Millennium Development Goals, Agricultural Growth and Openness," May, 2003. Available at http://www.econ.ox.ac.uk/Research/wp/pdf/paper161.pdf 

8 The phrase refers to a famous book by Arthur Mosher, Getting Agriculture Moving, published in 1966. 

9 These categories are described in considerable detail in Maarten J. Chrispeels and David E. Sadava, Plants, Genes, and Crop Biotechnology, 2nd ed. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2003. 

10 See Steven Block, et al., "Did Indonesia’s Crises of 1997/98 Affect Child Nutrition? A Cohort Decomposition Analysis of National Nutrition Surveillance Data." Working Paper No. 90, Center for International Development, Harvard University, 2002. 

11 Organized by the Cornell University Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSPII) Team in collaboration with the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (IAARD) and financed by USAID. 

12 The reality of this was stressed in a review of Monsanto’s experience with agricultural biotechnology. See David Barboza, "Monsanto Finds Itself Struggling for Profit Even in Markets it Dominates." New York Times, Saturday, May 31, 2003, pages D1 and D14. 

13 For more details, see Rob Paarlberg, Governing the GM Crop Revolution: Policy Choices for Developing Countries, IFPRI Discussion Paper 33, December, 2000. 

14 See Atkinson et al., "Public Sector Collaboration for Agricultural IP Management," in "Policy Forum: Intellectual Property Rights," Science, July 11, 2003 (Vol. 301), pages 174–5. 

15 Reported by John Pickrell in Science, July 25, 2003 (Vo. 301), pages 447–8. The report itself is available at www.gmsciencedebate.org.uk/report./default.htm 

16 The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union is designed to minimize structural change in agriculture and thus preserve "family farms." It does this through a variety of protectionist mechanisms, including export subsidies, guaranteed domestic prices and payments for environmental "services" provided by agriculture. From this perspective, banning GM foods is simply one more mechanism for avoiding foreign competition facing European farmers. For this reason, the United States is challenging the European approach to GM foods at the WTO. 

17 See Justin Gillis, "To Feed Hungry Africans, Firms Plant Seeds of Science," Washington Post, Tuesday, March 11, 2002, page A01.

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