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Role of Biotechnology in Stimulating Agribusiness R&D Investment in India - Pray & Nagarajan (2013) - AgBioForum

Role of Biotechnology in Stimulating Agribusiness R&D Investment in India - Pray & Nagarajan (2013) - AgBioForum | Youth in Agriculture for Innovation-Food Security |

The seed industry is the most research-intensive agribusiness in India and over the last 15 years has had the fastest growth in research expenditure of any major agribusiness. In another paper... we suggested that biotechnology could have been an important cause of research and development (R&D) intensity and growth in the seed industry. 


Promoters of biotechnology argue that it will stimulate R&D and innovation by providing technological opportunities to produce crop varieties that are more productive and have improved quality. Critics of biotech argue that genetically modified (GM) crops have not increased technological opportunity because the new crops are not more productive...They argue that the main impact of GM crops has been to increase the ability of major biotech firms to appropriate more money from their innovations because of the protection provided new traits through patents and the regulatory system.


This may or may not lead to more research. The major biotech firms may do more research, but smaller firms may reduce their research because patents may be inaccessible and it may be difficult to move new technology through the regulatory system...


Biotechnology influenced Indian R&D through three channels: Bt cotton seed sales increased seed companies’ income, providing them with money to invest in R&D and increasing their expectation for future profits from R&D; biosafety regulations increased biotech and seed firms’ ability to capture some of the economic benefits from research by granting them a monopoly on GM traits and providing regulators to police the monopoly; finally, biotechnology improved technological opportunities with new traits and research tools.


We tested the importance of these channels using an econometric model of R&D expenditure by the Indian seed industry with a unique set of individual firm data from 1987 to 2009. Our results show that the introduction of Bt cotton greatly increased seed sales and that these sales were the major determinant of R&D. Evidence also suggests that research increased due to technological opportunities created from GM traits and public-sector research... 


We do have overwhelming empirical evidence that Bt cotton increased cotton yields... We also have willingness to pay studies... that show farmers were willing to pay much higher prices for Bt hybrids than conventional hybrids due to their higher productivity and reduced pesticide use. Thus, we can reject the critics’ argument that all of the increased sales is due to increased appropriability rather than increased demand by farmers due to the productivity of the Bt hybrids... 


Investments in public-sector R&D... produce public cultivars, which so far induce more private research... Younger firms (measured by years in the Indian market) invest more in research than older firms. This suggests that programs such as the Small Business Innovation Research Initiative... to develop new firms that have spun off from public research or from other companies may also increase research. Also, programs to encourage new firms and existing agribusiness to enter the seed business... could be useful.

Via Alexander J. Stein
Alexander J. Stein's curator insight, November 2, 2013 1:48 PM

"Figure 1 shows that illegal Bt cotton spread as rapidly as legal Bt cotton until 2006-07 when economic regulations forced down the price of legal cotton seed and new types of Bt... came on the market." >> Some of the anecdotal evidence on problems related to Bt cotton may well stem from the purchasing and planting of illegal sees as prices, loans, purity, quality, reliability, accountability, liability, etc. are obvious issues in illegal markets.  

"Table 2 shows a major jump in the number of Bt and conventional hybrids that are grown by a significant number of farmers." >> Suggestions that GMOs necessarily lead to a reduction of biodiversity and varietal monotony are clearly wrong. 

"The share of multinationals in the market has increased. Unlike the global seed industry, however, the Indian seed industry is now less concentrated than it was in the past." >> Similarly, suggestions that GMOs necessarily lead to a concentration of seed markets seems also wrong – and the text suggests policies that would help further improve the dynamics of R&D and promote new entrants into the market. 

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#HealthyRecipe - High Protein & High Fibre Cereal

#HealthyRecipe - High Protein & High Fibre Cereal | Youth in Agriculture for Innovation-Food Security |


1 cup Nature’s Path Spelt cereal (or cereal of choice)
1/4 cup buckwheat groats (soaked overnight, drained, rinsed) *See note below
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2-1 teaspoon (not tbsp like I wrote prior) chocolate protein powder (I used Vega choc-o-lot)
1.25 cup high-protein non-dairy milk (I used Eden organic soy with 12 grams PRO per cup)



Via The New Media Moguls
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Cuba Shows Impact of Biotechnology on Cancer Fight at Havana Trade Fair

Cuba Shows Impact of Biotechnology on Cancer Fight at Havana Trade Fair | Youth in Agriculture for Innovation-Food Security |
The Cuban biotechnology’s impact on cancer control and innovative therapeutic product developed by the Molecular Immunology Center (CIM), will be presented at the XXXI International Fair of Havana (FIHAV-2013) (#Cuba : Cuba Shows Impact of Biotechnology...

Via Ed Rybicki
Ed Rybicki's curator insight, November 5, 2013 8:12 AM

The Cubans are seriously impressive in their single-minded approach to biotechnology: they use it to improve health, and very effectively, too.

Mario Armona Yoldi's curator insight, November 30, 2014 6:57 PM

Esta noticia entra dentro del marco regulatorio de la biotecnología.

La biotecnología permite una gran cantidad de avances científicos, que incluso pueden llegar a ser útiles en la lucha contra el cáncer, como es el caso. 
Su regulación cobra una gran importancia, y que al crear nuevas estructuras genómicas, los resultados pueden ser impredecibles.

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ICT4Ag: diving off the springboard and into the deep-end of ICTs

ICT4Ag: diving off the springboard and into the deep-end of ICTs | Youth in Agriculture for Innovation-Food Security |
Social Reporting at the ICT4Ag conference

DJEGBENOU Romuald's curator insight, November 5, 2013 5:44 PM

En route to Kigali for the ICT4Ag conference, I was almost internet free for 24 hours given my long flight. What if I had a work emergency? How would I get this blog piece written and posted in time? This made me think about how much in fact we all depend on technology. Technology has not only changed the way that we work but by default, also the way we think and live.

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PUBLICATION: Overcoming smallholder challenges with biotechnology

PUBLICATION: Overcoming smallholder challenges with biotechnology | Youth in Agriculture for Innovation-Food Security |

A new FAO publication calls for greater national and international efforts to bring agricultural biotechnologies to smallholder producers in developing countries.

The publication, Biotechnologies at Work for Smallholders: Case Studies from Developing Countries in Crops, Livestock and Fish, asserts biotechnologies can help smallholders to improve their livelihoods and food security.

Biotechnologies at Work for Smallholders covers 19 case studies in crops, livestock and fisheries, written by scientists and researchers worldwide. It describes the practical realities and experiences of taking biotechnology research and applying it in smallholder production of bananas, cassava, rice, livestock, shrimp and more, in different parts of the developing world.

The case studies encompassed a wide range of biotechnologies. They included older or "traditional" ones like artificial insemination and fermentation, and cutting-edge techniques involving DNA-based methodologies - but not genetic modification.

The publication was prepared by a multi-disciplinary team at FAO as part of an agricultural biotechnologies project partially funded by the Government of Canada.

“With the right institutional and financial arrangements, governments, research institutions and organizations can help to bring biotechnologies to smallholders, improving their capacity to cope with challenges like climate change, plant and animal diseases, and the overuse of natural resources,” said Andrea Sonnino, Chief of FAO’s Research and Extension Unit.

Case studies

Four case studies were from India, two from China and one each from Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Cuba, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand.

Researchers used their knowledge of DNA markers to develop a flood-tolerant rice variety in India with a potential yield of 1-3 tons per hectare more than previously used varieties, under flood conditions. After being released in 2009, the new variety, Swarna-Sub1, spread rapidly and was used by three million farmers in 2012.

“In summary, submergence-tolerant varieties provided opportunities for improving and stabilizing yields in flash flood-affected areas, significantly contributing to national food security,” stated Uma Singh and colleagues from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) who prepared the case study.

In China, the Jian carp was developed using within-family genetic selection and gynogenesis (a reproductive technology resulting in all-female offspring that have only received genes from their mother). The Jian carp is now grown on about 160,000 fish farms and makes up over 50 percent of common carp production in China.|

In northern Cameroon, the use of DNA-based diagnostic tools in the field allowed veterinary authorities to quickly diagnose outbreaks of Peste des Petits Ruminants, a highly contagious viral disease affecting goats and sheep. Rapid and accurate disease diagnosis meant that the authorities could stamp out these outbreaks and stop the spread of the fatal disease to other flocks.

“Without this rapid response, thousands of sheep and goats would likely have succumbed to the disease during these outbreaks, leading to millions of CFA francs in losses,” affirmed Abel Wade and Abdoulkadiri Souley from the National Veterinary Laboratory (LANAVET) in Cameroon.

The editors say biotechnologies can improve crop-, livestock- and fish-related livelihoods by boosting yields and enhancing market access. Introducing new and traditional biotechnologies on family farms can also keep production costs down and improve sustainable management of natural resources.

Lessons learned

The publication offers lessons from the case studies which can be used to inform and assist policymakers in making decisions on programs involving biotechnologies. High up on the list was the need for national political commitment to improving smallholder productivity and livelihoods; financial support from non-governmental sources to supplement national efforts; and, long-term national investment in both people and infrastructure linked to science and technology.

The publication also found international and national partnerships were vital for achieving results, as was the sharing of genetic resources, techniques and know-how across national and continental borders.

Biotechnologies at work for smallholders also underlines the importance of involving smallholders in the process at all stages, taking into consideration their knowledge, skills and own initiatives.

Biotechnologies at Work for Smallholders:
Case Studies from Developing Countries in Crops, Livestock and Fish

Edited by
J. Ruane, J.D. Dargie, C. Mba, P. Boettcher, H.P.S. Makkar, D.M. Bartley and A. Sonnino

Download Full Report:


Virginia Garreton's curator insight, November 4, 2013 3:08 PM

Biotechnology is a powerful tool mainly accesible to rich countries. How can we all change that?

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Study: AgriBusiness Lagging When it Comes to New Tech

(EMAILWIRE.COM, July 02, 2013 ) Mahwah, NJ -- Farmers have been shown to be slow to adopt the newest technology in the sector, according to the new study from CSIRO in a study recently released.

Via EmailWire NewsWire
EmailWire NewsWire's curator insight, October 18, 2013 11:46 AM

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Developing the Microfinance Movement for Smallholder Farmers - Reuters AlertNet

Developing the Microfinance Movement for Smallholder Farmers - Reuters AlertNet | Youth in Agriculture for Innovation-Food Security |
Developing the Microfinance Movement for Smallholder Farmers
Reuters AlertNet
Millions of rural smallholder farmers around the world face a similar struggle.
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