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
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
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.