Forthcoming Book Examines the Economics of Disease Control in Crop Production

The Economics of Soybean Disease Management

Kalaitzandonakes, N., Kaufman, J., Zahringer, K.

Publisher: CABI

As the world population passes 7.5 billion on its way to 9 billion by 2050, the global agrifood industry faces the challenge of feeding more people from a fixed or even decreasing amount of agricultural land, water, and other resources. This can happen through significant productivity gains in agriculture and through reductions in post-harvest losses and food waste. In crop production, developing higher yielding varieties and improved crop protection methods that reduce the amount of produce lost to weed, insect, and pathogen pests are the primary strategies for securing productivity gains. Both of these strategies are constant areas of research by universities, public research institutes, and private firms.

This book is concerned with one aspect of the quest for productivity, the economics of managing diseases that affect soybean production. The essential scientific research undertaken is just the first step in meeting the productivity challenge. The ultimate goal is to develop new methods and practices that are adopted by farmers and effectively used in the field. The book explores the crop protection practices that are available to soybean farmers for controlling diseases and associated yield losses, the inherent complexity in the crop protection decisions that farmers must make, the economic impacts of such decisions, and the linkages between producer decisions and the decisions made by technology developers in R&D which shape the development of future solutions for controlling disease and associated losses.

From Agriscience to Agribusiness: Theories, Policies and Practices in Technology Transfer and Commercialization

From Agriscience to Agribusiness: Theories, Policies and Practices in Technology Transfer and Commercialization

Kalaitzandonakes, N., Carayannis, E.G., Grigoroudis, E., Rozakis, S. (eds.)

Publisher: Springer, New York

Find the book here.

Over the last 100 years the process of agricultural innovation has been radically changed. At the turn of the last century most new plant varieties, farm implements, or production processes were still the result of the efforts of individual farmers, naturalists, or tinkerers attempting to solve specific problems. Since that time, organized scientific investigation has taken a progressively larger role, until in our present day innovation is almost exclusively the domain of formalized, sophisticated, large-scale R&D programs in universities, government laboratories and research stations, and, increasingly, private firms. As government R&D funding expanded after WWII, public research institutions devoted more resources to both basic and applied research as well as to improving their capacity to transfer the results of that research to potential developers and users. The resulting stream of innovation transformed the agriculture industry through increased productivity and accelerated substitution of capital for labor and land. The increased capital investment aided broad economic development by releasing labor for other pursuits and the increased farm productivity improved food security around the world.

Society in general has benefitted from agricultural R&D investments and the institutional arrangements that support them. The return on investment of public R&D has been estimated to be high in all studies. Private firms across the agrifood supply chain have experienced significant growth based on their investment in R&D and innovation, creating employment and wealth that has spread far beyond the agriculture sector. At the same time, political actors have continued to strengthen controls in the legal system in an attempt to minimize societal costs and increase the net benefits from innovation. Efficient regulations can mitigate risks that might accompany some innovations, and refinements to IP laws as well as antitrust laws have been used to curb excessive market power that could result from overuse of IPR.

The accelerating pace of scientific discovery produced by the modern R&D system and the global institutional, structural, and economic adaptations that have followed have created a dynamic environment of near constant change. This book provides a comprehensive review of the key elements of the agricultural innovation process, from agriscience to agribusiness. It brings together legal, economic, business, policy and technology experts from the public and private sectors in order to assess the current state of agrifood technology transfer activities all along the process from basic research to new production techniques and crop varieties, analyze the impact of various legal and institutional arrangements on transfer efficiency, and describe the benefits of innovation on everyday life.

Candy company enlists genetic engineers to save chocolate from extinction

Story originally published by Newsweek.

If your New Year’s Resolution was to give up chocolate, you might find it easier to do it in 2050, when scientists suspect chocolate may go extinct.

Unless, that is, gene-editing scientists manage to save it.

The persnickety cacao plant contains seeds that are the vital ingredient in chocolate. But the plant only grows in narrow bands of land in the rainforest, where the weather stays relatively wet and humid the whole year. Climate change is projected to alter this habitat so drastically in the next 40 years that cacao won’t grow there, according to a report by Business Insider. It might be possible for cacao to grow on steep mountains, but many of those areas are protected as wildlife refuges against agriculture. (more…)

There Is “Little Doubt” About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops

Article originally published by American Enterprise Institute.

Executive Summary

Genetically modified (GM) crops are plants in which DNA has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally through plant breeding. Genetic engineering transfers selected individual genes within or across plant species to produce plants with targeted characteristics.

Some have questioned whether GM crops have been responsible for increased crop yields. Comparing US yields to European Union yields (where GM crops are banned) provides evidence that GM technologies have increased crop yields. Agricultural yields have increased over the past several decades. But, such increases are not fait accompli. Rather, they result from the development of new technologies. Banning yield-enhancing technologies means that food crop production will be lower than would otherwise be the case, and more water, land, and other inputs will be needed to increase global food production. (more…)