Handbook of the International Political Economy of Agriculture and Food
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Handbook of the International Political Economy of Agriculture and Food

Edited by Alessandro Bonanno and Lawrence Busch

This book tackles the central question of the political and structural changes and characteristics that govern agriculture and food. Original contributions explore this highly globalized economic sector by analyzing salient geographical regions and substantive topics. Along with chapters that investigate agri-food in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Oceania, the book includes contributions that cover topics such as labor, science and technology, the financialization of agri-food, and supermarkets.
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Chapter 16: International political economy of agricultural research and development

Leland Glenna, Barbara Brandl and Kristal Jones


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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