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The development impact of genetic use restriction technologies: a forecast based on the hybrid crop experience

  • Timo Goeschl (a1) and Timothy Swanson (a2)

Advances in biotechnology have made available gene-manipulation techniques that enable the protection of genetic material from unauthorized use and the prevention of self-supply of commercial seeds by farmers—in order to allow enhanced appropriation of the values of innovation in agricultural R&D. These techniques have become known as Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs).

This paper forecasts the potential impact of wide-spread adoption of GURTs by the providers of HYV seeds on the yield development in developing countries. To do so, it assesses (1) the effects of enhanced appropriation through GURTs on the technological expansion at the yield frontier and (2) the effects of technological protection of value-adding traits through GURTS on the diffusion of yield gains from the frontier to developing countries. These assessments are based on a particular hypothesis, which is that GURTs will replicate across most staple crops the experiences that were made with a previous use restriction technology (hybridization) in only a few crops. The estimation of impacts is carried out as a simulation and is based on expansion and diffusion parameters estimated for hybrid seeds over a 38-year period. It shows that the impact of GURTs on developing countries' yields will vary considerably. Specifically, those countries that currently have the lowest yields would be most adversely affected in their future yield development by the wide-spread use of GURTs.

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This research has its origins in a research grant by the Department for International Development (CNTR 99 8215) to investigate the impacts of genetic use restriction technologies on developing countries. We are grateful to Robert Carlisle from DfID for encouraging us to explore this area. We are particularly grateful to James Symons for helpful discussions on the econometrics and comments, and grateful to Mark Rogers for helpful discussions and comments without implicating them in any way in all the remaining errors. This research has benefited from discussions with Ed Barbier, William Fisher, Jonathan Jones, Michael Lipton, C.S. Srinivasan and Colin Thirtle that took place as part of the research.
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Environment and Development Economics
  • ISSN: 1355-770X
  • EISSN: 1469-4395
  • URL: /core/journals/environment-and-development-economics
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