- Elgar original reference
Edited by Stuart J. Smyth, Peter W.B. Phillips and David Castle
Chapter 5: Biotechnology in North America: the United States, Canada and Mexico
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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