Keywords: biotechnology, transgenic crops, agriculture, developing countries, technological change, food security
Agrobiotechnology choices in developing countries
Today's agrobiotechnology revolution - especially the move toward transgenic or genetically modified (GM) crops - is being researched, commercialised, and (hotly) debated mostly in Europe, the USA, and elsewhere within the rich industrial world. Yet it is in the developing countries where the greatest human and environmental promise - or peril - of this new technology may lie. This paper argues that it is time to move the terms of the GM crop policy debate in the direction of developing country interests. Farmers and consumers in the industrial world are already wealthy and well fed, and can afford, if they wish, to take a highly sceptical, precautionary view toward this new technology. A majority of farmers and consumers in developing countries, on the other hand, are neither wealthy nor well fed, so for them the precautionary approach might not be sufficient. At the same time, governments and societies in the industrial world are also different from the developing world in their scientific and institutional capacity to manage these powerful new technologies safely.