Biotechnology for Farmers Welfare and Poverty Reduction: Technologies, Impact and Policy Framework

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Abstract or Summary

Tools of biotechnology provide the chances of infusing a new round of technology into the agricultural sector of developing countries, for raising farmers income and for accelerating poverty reduction. This paper has examined the nature and adoption of biotechnologies, socioeconomic impacts, regulatory frameworks and concerns for rising farm incomes, in a cross country perspective. The product development in biotech has been moving from just insect/herbicide resistance to breaking yield barriers, drought tolerance and quality enhancing traits; and just from three crops to 28 crops. Contrary to the standard narrative, the developing countries in 2016 accounted for a larger share of the area under genetically engineered (GE) crops. The public sector has been making inroads in developing biotech crops. Rigorous study of peer-reviewed literature shows that GE crop cultivation has increased yields and net income, reduced pesticide usage, and helped conserve tillage. On the downside are instances of resistance development in pink bollworm in India and in weeds to glyphosate in other countries. Harnessing biotechnologies necessitate enabling policies like legal framework for biosafety, labelling and transboundary movement in consonance with Cartagena Protocol. Continuing consolidation, driven by higher needs of investments is transforming the seed sector and raises concerns for small-farm agriculture through “tragedy of the anti-commons”. The possible countervailing forces and ways to strengthen them have been discussed. The policy implications have been then drawn for utilization of opportunities in advancement of biotechnology for developing country agriculture.


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