prevented publication of research results, but some scientists claim that the agreements do create publication delays (NRC 1997a). Such delays in publication could be especially problematic if they affect the careers of graduate students, postdoctoral associates, and other scientists beyond the principal investigator. In addition, it is not clear how much profit and commercial motives affect research agendas of university researchers. Those issues are being deliberated and the outcomes probably will affect the structure of university research.
Technology-transfer mechanisms evolve continuously, and this evolution should be studied and analyzed. Universities vary in the emphasis placed on technology transfer and education of their scientists on how to negotiate agreements with the private sector. Commercial firms believe that technology transfer offices generally overvalue inventions of their scientists and undervalue risks made by private firms (NRC 1997a). Increased sensitivity to differences in culture, mission, motives, and expectations among public and private research collaborators can increase the likelihood of success in these negotiations (NRC 1997a).
The USDA not only is required to transfer its knowledge to the public domain, but also is encouraged to transfer technologies that originate in its laboratories to the private sector for commercialization. The 1980 Stevenson Wydler Act and its amendment, the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986, set up Cooperative Research and Development Agreements as a mechanism for collaboration between government and private research laboratories (NRC 1997a). The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) engages in collaborative alliances with a variety of companies, including large multinational firms (adapted from USDA-ARS Technology Transfer Information Systems databases) in a few recent cases the public has expressed some concern with the outcome of the partnerships between federal agencies and private corporations. This is an important topic for further research. The resolution of these issues could influence the design of public-sector research and the ability of the public and private sectors to use research results.
Agriculture has become more science-based and requires much more specific expertise to enhance productivity. As the support and funding of extension services decrease, new types of institutions and private consultants are emerging. It was stated earlier that some large farmers retain their own inhouse expertise. Private consultants serve some small farmers. Sometimes, they work independently; at other times, they work with agrochemical or irrigation companies. Transmission of knowledge in the past was mostly the responsibility of the public sector, but knowledge is