Edited by Stuart J. Smyth, Peter W.B. Phillips and David Castle
Innovation and technological change is governed by a range of institutional frameworks. This chapter concentrates on the intellectual property (IP) system, arguably one of the most important governance mechanisms influencing the evolution of technological trajectories or pathways in agricultural biotechnology. As in other areas of technology, innovation in agricultural biotechnology (agbiotech) has catalyzed changes in the IP system, in this case extending the system into the area of life forms. Novel products of biotechnological research have had to be accommodated by the IP system. This process of institutional change has been driven by a struggle between various actors in the system to influence incremental and major adjustments in the system to their perceived benefit (Graff and Zilberman, 2007; Brousseau et al., 2011). These actors include individuals and organizations involved in research and development (R & D) in agbiotech and plant breeding, in both the public sector and the private sector, as well as seed propagators, farmers, other businesses involved in the agricultural value chain, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and others. These change agents attempt to influence the components of the IP system, in which a distinction can be made between legislators (who define and create legal instruments), regulators or administrators (IP-granting authorities, who interpret and implement instruments) and the judiciary (which interprets legal instruments as a result of conflicts). Thus, IP both conditions and influences innovation and, conversely, technological change drives the evolution of the IP system by presenting new challenges and disrupting the configuration of varying and opposed interests.
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