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Agricultural biotechnology and the third world

Briefing/policy papers

The impact on less developed countries (LDCs) of advances in agricultural biotechnology was recently examined at an ODI conference. This Briefing Paper draws on some of the work of the conference to explain the nature and likely potential of agricultural biotechnology; to examine the main concerns it has aroused over regulation, genetic diversity and commercial exploitation; and to consider the range of possible applications and consequences for developing countries. The Paper shows the growing importance of private sector research and development in industrial countries and indicates the need for expanded publicly-funded research in LDCs and support for the International Agricultural Research Centres (IARCs). The Paper explains that the main reason for a declining share of LDC agricultural exports in world trade remains northern subsidy policies, not biotechnology, but shows that there is likely to be an increasingly adverse impact on LDC trade in specific crops as substitutes become available.