Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Alessandro Bonanno and Lawrence Busch
Chapter 16: International political economy of agricultural research and development
Many commentators are alarmed that publicly funded food and agricultural research and development (R & D), which in the third quarter of the 20th century was largely responsible for yield increases that helped feed the world as the population more than doubled, is stagnating in industrial nations (Piesse and Thirtle 2010; Pardey, Alston, and Chan-Kang 2013; Fuglie, Heisey, King, Pray, and Schimmelpfennig 2012; Pardey and Alston 2010). They warn that, as the world’s population continues to increase, agricultural R & D will need to keep pace if the world is to avoid mass starvation. Despite the need for more public investment, however, they show that the growth rate of public spending in agricultural R & D began falling during the fourth quarter of the 20th century and continues to stagnate in the 21st century. Furthermore, they point out that the drop off in public funding has coincided with stagnating crop yields and a rise in food prices. Although there has been an increase in the private sector’s investment in agricultural R & D, these commentators contend that it is not a substitute for the decline in public support (Fuglie et al. 2012). And although there has been a rise in public-sector support for agricultural R & D in emerging economies, such as Brazil, India, and China, they claim that support does not make up for the stagnation in public support in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations (Pardey and Alston 2010).
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