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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture
ence even when scientific evidence cannot support the objections. In this case, a government role in banning a pesticide might not be appropriate; an appropriate role might be to establish a legal framework that enables organic and pesticide-free markets to emerge and prosper so that consumers can be given an informed choice between lines of products that vary with pest management.
Although agricultural biotechnology is more successful now than it was 2-5 years ago, raising money for agricultural ventures is still difficult for various reasons. First and most important, few investors have expertise in agricultural biotechnology. Second, although investors who exited early from their investments in 1980s agricultural-biotechnology companies made good returns, there are no blockbuster successes among the agricultural biotechnology success stories. Third, agricultural biotechnology must compete with telecommunication, software, Internet, and health-care biotechnology for venture capital. Fourth, few new agricultural-biotechnology companies have continued to generate investor interest (there is no “critical mass”). For United States agriculture to stay in the forefront with safer, environmentally friendly pest-management tools, there needs to be a continuing cycle of innovative new companies that research risky cutting-edge technologies.
Recommendation 4. Government policies should be adapted to fosterinnovation and reward risk reduction in private industry and agriculture.The public sector has a unique role to play in supporting researchon minor use cropping systems, where the inadequate availabilityof appropriate chemicals and the lack of environmentally and economicallyacceptable alternatives to synthetic chemicals contribute disproportionatelyto concerns about chemical impacts.
The public sector can foster innovation in product development and pest-management practices by continuing to reduce barriers to investment by the private sector and by increasing implementation of regulatory processes that encourage product and practice development. This points to several recommendations relevant to innovation and risk reduction:
Recommendation 4a. The Department of Commerce Advanced TechnologyProgram should be encouraged to fund high-risk R&D for IPM, EBPMand alternatives that have commercial potential for early stage companies.
The Advanced Technology Program (ATP) funded by the Department of Commerce awards grants that average $1–5 million, making it a valuable source for an early stage company. Typically ATP awards com