Methodological and Technological issues in Technology Transfer

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11.3.5 Likely Conditions for Future Technology Transfer

The uncertainty of climate change, whether a locality will warm a little or a lot or will grow wetter or drier, affects the course of technology transfer greatly. In responding to uncertainty laying out a portfolio of diverse actions and assuring flexibility to use them, may be more appropriate than preparing a specific adaptation or mitigation action.

Promoting sustainable development and protecting the climate system are both goals of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and The Kyoto Protocol. But the trends show that climate change has not been prevented completely. So the transfer of both mitigation and adaptation technology would be considered "no regret". At the same time, the benefits of technology transfer are very unevenly distributed, and are sensitive to the need for adaptation to climate change. Some modest implications for agricultural policy are discussed below.

Market role
The world market allows a country to sell its abundant agricultural production abroad, earning foreign exchange for the nation. The market also puts their consumers in touch with foreign products that are lower priced or more available than domestic products. As the climate changes, the conditions for production will alter and the world market may provide even greater benefits. It can facilitate these changing production patterns by finding new markets for new products and by providing supplies to affected regions. Thus, the flow of trade may relieve food shortages. As the invisible hand that coordinates adaptation, therefore, the world market is a particularly valuable climate change asset. The key question is whether the market will be allowed to operate without distortions.

At the same time, some countries are so dependent on agriculture that vagaries in the weather and economic circumstances make them especially vulnerable and in need of technology transfer. So the special requirements of the countries in technology transfer addressing climate change deserve special consideration. There will remain critical roles for governments in this process.

Growing role of the private sector
An implication of the rise of private sector plant breeding is that new seed varieties so crucial to yield growth across the world will increasingly come from private companies demanding greater levels of IPR protection. Developing countries will have to interact with an increasingly concentrated private agricultural (primarily seed) biotechnology industry. The private sector will thus become a more important vehicle for transferring modern crop varieties in the future.

Growth of transgenic crops
Many of the new innovations in plant breeding are coming in the form of transgenic crops -- crops developed by transferring genes from unrelated species to major food crops. While transgenic crops have already been widely adopted in the United States (e.g., cotton, corn, soybeans, and potatoes), many institutional barriers and controversies may limit their transfer to other countries (industrialised and developing). Chief among these barriers is the international disagreement over the components of a biosafety protocol regulating international field tests of new biotechnology, informed consent, labelling and liability rules governing environmental accidents.

Packages of technologies
There is a need to focus on the potential for packaging technologies to gain greater acceptance. For example, researchers have found that farmers are more willing to adopt a more comprehensive nutrient management plan that included several practices rather than a piecemeal, practice by practice approach.

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