Table of Contents

Handbook on Agriculture, Biotechnology and Development

Handbook on Agriculture, Biotechnology and Development

Elgar original reference

Edited by Stuart J. Smyth, Peter W.B. Phillips and David Castle

This book is a compendium of knowledge, experience and insight on agriculture, biotechnology and development. Beginning with an account of GM crop adoptions and attitudes towards them, the book assesses numerous crucial processes, concluding with detailed insights into GM products. Drawing on expert perspectives of leading authors from 57 different institutions in 16 countries, it provides a unique, global overview of agbiotech following 20 years of adoption. Many consider GM crops the most rapid agricultural innovation adopted in the history of agriculture. This book provides insights as to why the adoption has occurred globally at such a rapid rate.

Chapter 5: Biotechnology in North America: the United States, Canada and Mexico

Julia Bognar and Grace Skogstad

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, development studies, economics and finance, agricultural economics, environment, agricultural economics, biotechnology, environmental sociology, innovation and technology, biotechnology


Biotechnology in North America, as it is globally, is dominated by the United States. American biotechnology firms vastly outnumber those elsewhere in the world, they spend more on research and development, and they are responsible for two-fifths of biotechnology patents worldwide (OECD, 2011). In the specific field of plant biotechnology, the US also dominates. In 2011, American farmers dominated global and North American production of GM crops, with 45 per cent and 87 per cent of production respectively (ISAAA, 2011). Canadian farmers have also embraced GM crops, particularly GM canola, positioning Canada in the top five GM nations in the world (ibid.). Mexico, the third member of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), presents a different biotechnology story. Although it was one of the first countries to permit field trials of GM crops, it does not allow any commercial planting of GM varieties of native white corn, its most important cereal for human consumption. Moreover, pilot projects of GM varieties of yellow corn were only approved under limited conditions in early 2011. Mexico currently ranks seventeenth in the world in GM production (ibid.). American dominance in plant biotechnology can be attributed to explicit policies of its governments to promote GM products. These promotional policies include strong protection for intellectual property rights as well as a permissive regulatory framework that does not discriminate against biotechnology.

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