The agricultural sector can be crudely characterized as having experienced five technological revolutions. These revolutions differed in terms of timing. The origin of each revolution was in developed market economies, and each was diffused to developing economies at different rates depending on economic, soil and climate conditions and on the capacity of developing countries to innovate and imitate. Each revolution differed in the degree to which it was “science-linked” or “science-enabled.” Each revolution varied in terms of the role of the public sector in the conduct of research and development (R&D). Finally, each revolution differed in terms of the degree to which intellectual property rights (IPRs) facilitated the origin of inventions and the diffusion of innovations.
The five revolutions in chronological order of innovation timing are agricultural mechanization, agricultural chemicals, crop genetic improvements (the Green Revolution), livestock industrialization, and recombinant DNA (rDNA; the Gene Revolution). In this chapter, I describe them and analyze the ability of countries to innovate and absorb agricultural technologies. Thus, in Section 2, I discuss the degree of science linkage and the role of IPRs in each revolution. In Sections 3 and 4, I describe the Green Revolution and the Gene Revolution, respectively, in more detail. In Section 5, I develop innovation and imitation (In-Im) capacity indexes for four groups of developing countries and describe the process of diffusion of technologies from originating countries (chiefly in the OECD market economies) to developing countries.
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