The International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR)



The Impact of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies on Developing Countries


Timo Goeschl, University of Cambridge,UK
Tim Swanson, University College London,UK





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 estimates 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 the experiences that were made with a previous use restriction technology, namely hybrid seeds, in a limited number of crops, across most staple 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. The comparison between the parameters show that a trade-off between growth at the frontier and diffusion from the frontier exists in the choice of technologies that protect R&D rents.



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