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UNU-WIDER Biotechnology and Poverty Reduction in Developing Countries

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A teenager wears torn rubber boots in a muddy local market in Bac Ha, Viet Nam. As of 2005 figures, half the world population—more than 3 billion people–is estimated to live on less than USD 2.50 a day. Bac Ha, Viet Nam. UN Photo/Kibae Park.

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Biotechnology and Poverty Reduction in Developing Countries

Throughout human history, technology has proven its ability to contribute to higher material living standards, yet the work of poverty alleviation is far from complete. We believe that in the modern age, biotechnology holds remarkable potential for reducing poverty and its attendant adversities. However, the extent to which this promise is fulfilled will depend as much on institutions as it does on innovation. In these early stages of development, biotechnology is concentrated in the most developed, Tier I countries. In this paper, we envision future biotechnology diffusion around the world, with large emergent Tier II economies playing a catalytic role in propagating affordable and appropriate innovation products. Through the mechanism of a globally R&D supply chain, such products can ultimately reach the world’s poorest and improve their dietary, health, and income status. For this to happen, three general conditions must be satisfied. First, property rights must be clearly delineated and recognized by more universal standards. Second, multilateral public and private initiative must be taken to lower barriers to diffusion. These include government intervention, imperfect contractual standards, and incomplete information. A broad spectrum of government policies—from outright protectionism to corruption—impedes the propagation of innovation between countries of all three Tiers. Incompatibility and incompleteness of legal systems are also major obstacles to international sharing of innovation. Finally, informational commons supported by institutions like the IPR clearinghouse are needed to facilitate innovation partnership.
Publisher:
UNU-WIDER
Series:
WIDER Research Paper
Volume:
2005/27
Title:
Biotechnology and Poverty Reduction in Developing Countries
Authors:
Gregory Graff, David Roland-Holst, and David Zilberman
Publication date:
2005
ISSN Web:
1810-2611
ISBN Web:
9291907065
ISBN 13 Web:
9789291907069
Copyright holder:
© UNU-WIDER
Copyright year:
2005
Keywords:
sustainable development, technology, food, health, agriculture
JEL:
L31, I12, O13, O34, Q16
Project:
Impact of Globalization on the World's Poor
Sponsor:
The governments of Denmark (Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Finland (Ministry for Foreign Affairs), Norway (Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Sweden (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency-Sida) and the United Kingdom (Department for International Development)
Format:
online

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