n African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development - Biotechnology paths in developing countries : analyzing GM in Costa Rica and Jamaica and learning from plant tissue culture

Volume 2, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 2042-1338
  • E-ISSN: 2042-1346
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Despite its much touted potential, agricultural biotechnology has failed to deliver on the promise to revolutionize food production in poor countries. This paper takes a systematic look at why genetic modification (GM) technology has not contributed to improvements in agricultural productivity and food security in two small developing countries, Costa Rica and Jamaica. The study examines the emergence of GM technology in terms of knowledge creation and adoption within the national contexts, which include historical and cultural backgrounds; science, technology and innovation systems; as well as institutional and trade arrangements. In addition, the emergence of GM technology is contrasted with the introduction of an older biotechnology, plant tissue culture, which is more widely adopted and utilized in the two countries. The analysis shows that the major constraining factor to commercializing GM crops in both cases is markets. The antipathy of the European consumer market to genetically modified foods limits the benefits of developing GM crops in countries that export to Europe. Domestic markets are not large enough to justify the research and development costs and selling GM crops in North America alone would require large investments in keeping GM and non-GM plants separate in the export process.

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