Opportunities for Biotechnology Transfer to Developing Countries

in HortTechnology

Prospects for the establishment of joint-ventured agribusiness in developing countries are a function of international agreements, local risk conditions, business networks, and banking systems that are willing to support the innovative transfer, protection, assessment, and commercialization of biotechnology. The integration of biotechnology will occur only if truly convincing practices emerge that enhance biodiversity and the competitiveness of sustainable production, utilization, and marketing cycles. Integration also depends on agreements on intellectual property rights, plant protection, trade and tariffs, price stabilization, and non-trade-distorting policies. These policies deal with broad issues in research, pest and disease control, environmental quality, germplasm conservation, resource retirement programs, and even with crop and disaster insurance. Measures derived from these policies will apply to novel processes and to organisms that have been genetically engineered and approved for release into the environment. For developing countries, much more attention will have to be paid to biological diversity and sustainable balances among intercropped agriforest and horticultural production systems. Balances should be compatible with regional and local customs and practices before genetically engineered “green goods and services” are introduced in the marketplace. Recombinant DNA technologies are currently better-suited to deal on a “gene-by-gene” basis, with commodity surpluses and material conversions involving more concentrated and industrialized processes than with field plantations of genetically engineered, complex, and long-lived crops that may require considerable adaptive plasticity. In most countries with developing economies, the integration of recombinant DNA technology represents a “special problematique” involving politico- and socioeconomic and environmental factors. Barriers to transfer and integration may involve evolving international agreements, public acceptance, resource over-exploitation, environmental degradation, rapid insect and disease resistance, contaminated water and food supplies, reduced quality of life, labor quality, corruption, crime, farmers' rights, germplasm conservation, and lack of protection of intellectual property, among other factors. Hence, the timing and mode of transferring biotechnology needs considerable impact assessment on a case-by-case basis.

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