Handbook on Agriculture, Biotechnology and Development
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Handbook on Agriculture, Biotechnology and Development

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.
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Chapter 16: The trade system and biotechnology

William A. Kerr


Transformative technologies represent significant regulatory challenges both for domestic policy makers and for those charged with putting arrangements in place for their international governance. Transformative technologies move existing ways of doing things and institutional arrangements from states of near equilibrium into states of considerable disequilibrium before settling down to a new altered state of near equilibrium. That is the nature of the transformative process and what sets some new technologies apart from the more common iterative or marginal gains in technological progress. The problem for policy makers is that the end point of transformation is seldom clear and disequilibrium creates both considerable angst in society that they must attempt to allay, as well as losers that will demand protection or that the transformation be halted. Policy initiatives may have unintended consequences or kill the goose that lays the golden egg of technological benefits. Often, it is not clear in the beginning that the technology is transformative and policy makers may attempt to govern it within existing institutional arrangements that become increasingly inappropriate as the state of disequilibrium deepens. For example, in the early 1900s who could have foreseen the changes that harnessing the internal combustion engine for transportation would bring - networks of freeways, extensive fuel distribution systems, huge industrial manufacturing complexes, urban sprawl, parking lots, air pollution, carhops, driver training, junkyards, radial tyres, motels, just-in-time-delivery, 18-wheelers, drive-in churches, motor homes, demolition derbies; the list is almost endless.

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