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1 Introduction M any developing countries are evaluating how they might ben- efit from advances in biotechnology and are asking whether biotechnology can play a role in addressing problems of food security and poverty. In developing countries, some of greatest pressures for biotechnology adoption come from within their scientific communi- ties and from their local businesses. There is considerable hesitation in governmental deliberations because introducing and investing in these advances requires, at a minimum, a commitment of precious financial and administrative resources, whereas the anticipated payoff from that invest- ment—greater agricultural production, cleaner water, healthier food, and increased farmer income—is uncertain. With relatively weak economic, social, and physical infrastructures, some developing countries question whether the technology is appropriate and can be successful in benefit- ing their society. Moreover, although many countries have embraced the agricultural applications of biotechnology, some have rejected them, par- ticularly in Europe. Developing nations—with few sources of internal, independent scientific and policy advice—are trying to sort out for them- selves whether biotechnology is a sensible option to address their needs. There is frequent attention paid to national and international debates about whether the use of biotechnology brings greater benefits than risks to society, but less exposure is given to the issues that developing coun- tries struggle with in adopting biotechnology. Because there is a scarcity of neutral forums that are not associated with any particular govern- ment agency or stakeholder group, the National Research Council (NRC) 

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 GLOBAL CHALLENGES FOR AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY decided to convene a workshop of persons familiar with that struggle and with the complexity of issues surrounding agriculture and rural economic development in some of the world’s poorest nations. The pur- pose of the workshop was twofold: to illustrate the needs of developing countries and the potential of biotechnology to address them, and to voice concerns about what adopting biotechnology would mean—on multiple levels and for a diverse set of actors—that will affect and be affected by biotechnology. WORKSHOP ORGANIZATION The workshop was a cooperative effort of the NRC’s Board on Agri- culture and Natural Resources and Board on Life Sciences and was organized under the auspices of the Committee on Agricultural Biotech- nology, Health, and the Environment, a joint standing committee of the two boards. These units developed a proposal, scope, and statement of task (Box 1-1) for the workshop and obtained funding for it from the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of State. The NRC appointed a small steering committee to develop the meet- ing agenda and to identify and invite participants. Members of the steer- ing committee, whose biographies can be found in Appendix A of this report, included persons with ties to developing countries and with expe- rience in their agronomic and socioeconomic conditions. The membership reflected an array of views about the utility and potential of agricultural biotechnology for addressing problems of developing countries. How- ever, the committee agreed that the opportunity cost of not using biotech- nology is significant for human nutrition and health, and this cost affects not only the developing world, but human populations in general. That underlying thought became the impetus for the workshop. To prepare for the workshop, the committee created an electronic forum to reach stakeholders and experts in and outside the United States, particularly those living in or involved with agriculture in developing countries. They were asked to identify important global challenges that might be addressed with biotechnology and were instructed not to limit their answers to existing applications but to consider the problems for which biotechnology applications should be developed in the future. Sug- gestions were made by people in a variety of constituencies in developing countries, including government, academe, nongovernment organiza- tions, and the private sector. On the basis of the ideas submitted, the steering committee identified four major categories of potential opportunity relevant to biotechnol- ogy: increasing agricultural productivity, improving food security and human nutrition, protecting biodiversity and enhancing conservation, and designing innovation systems that would allow developing coun-

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 INTRODUCTION Box 1-1 Statement of Task An ad hoc steering committee will plan and host a workshop to first identify important global problems and then discuss the possible use of agricultural biotechnology as one of many tools for easing these problems. Focusing on challenges that society faces now or will face in the future, experts will be brought together with biotechnologists, other scientists, and stakeholders to address the following questions: (1) what are the most important global problems facing society (focusing on the long-term goals of preserving biodiversity, conserving natural resources, achieving food security, improving the health of popu- lations, cleaning up polluted lands and bodies of water, and obtaining adequate sources of energy), (2) can the use of agricultural biotechnology, as one of many tools, help provide solutions to these problems, and if so, (3) what are the scientific risks and socioeconomic issues associ- ated with its use that need to be considered. Opinions and ideas from people in developing countries will form the cornerstone of the workshop agenda. Several months prior to the work- shop, an electronic forum will be used as one of several mechanisms to reach stakeholders and experts who would not typically have direct input into National Academies activities, particularly those close to agriculture in developing countries. Diverse applications of agricultural biotechnology involving trans- genic plants, terrestrial and aquatic animals, insects, and microorganisms will be considered. Primary goals of the workshop are to identify policy issues and to explore research and directions for the safe use of agricul- tural biotechnology in addressing current and future global problems. tries to be active participants in the new technologies. The agenda for the workshop (Appendix B) was organized around those four themes. The workshop, which the steering committee titled “Global Chal- lenges for Guiding and Managing Agricultural Biotechnology,” was held in Washington, DC, on October 25-26, 2004, and attended by 75 people who represented developing and industrialized countries’ agricultural agencies, nonprofit organizations, private foundations, universities, and companies involved in agricultural development or biotechnology research (Appendix C). Speakers and panelists, many of whom were from developing coun-

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 GLOBAL CHALLENGES FOR AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY tries, were asked to address the four categories and explore several cross- cutting challenges related to the adoption of new technologies: • Scientific capacity to implement and develop new technologies. • Democratic participation in identifying needs and setting priorities. • Intellectual property issues related to biotechnology. • Regulatory and trade issues. • Social and economic capacity to adopt biotechnology innovations. The discussions emphasized plant biotechnology as a basis for addressing the cross-cutting global challenges because it was not pos- sible to address all types of biotechnology applications; however, it should be noted that these challenges are also relevant to animal, insect, and microbial biotechnology. In the end, the cross-cutting challenges, not the specific needs and technological solutions, generated the most discussion at the workshop. The speakers and panelists from developing countries provided rich insight on these cross-cutting issues and voiced concerns held by many in the developing world. As each application of biotechnol- ogy was presented, the social scientists, biologists, and other stakeholders gravitated away from the specifics of the technology and toward the social and other implications of selecting and implementing the technology. Presentations from the workshop are available online at http://dels.nas. edu/banr/GlobalChallenges/GCAgenda.doc. The opinions and ideas of people in developing countries shaped the discussions at the workshop, and the discussions form the basis of this workshop report. This report is not intended to be a comprehensive study of the subject of biotechnology, but rather it hopes to provide readers with a general understanding of what agricultural biotechnology can do and to inform readers of the multifaceted political and socioeconomic chal- lenges that developing countries will face when they consider applying agricultural biotechnology. ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT Workshop speakers and participants were asked to share their knowl- edge of agricultural biotechnology and to consider the implications of its applications in the context of developing countries. Chapter 2 summarizes the workshop presentations on several specific uses of plant biotechnol- ogy in improving crop yields, improving the nutritional value of food to increase food security, conserving biodiversity, and remediating contami- nated soils. Chapter 3 captures the wide-ranging discussion of biotechnol- ogy as only one of many tools for solving national and regional problem. It explores the challenges that developing countries need to overcome to realize the benefits of agricultural biotechnology.