Dynamic Efficiency in Cumulative Innovation – The Example of Green Biotechnology and Plant-Related Innovations

Research Seminars

Relevance, Background and Research Area of the Topic

Primarily intended to offer incentives for research and development (R&D), a strong protection of Intellectual Property (IP) receives an ambivalent evaluation among economists. Especially in cumulative innovation regimes, in which R&D proceeds incrementally and sequentially, building up upon foregoing inventions, a "tragedy of the anticommons" causing dynamic inefficiency is suspected. Evaluating a potential blockade of innovations, a research focus on green biotechnology and plant-related innovations is reasonable for at least two reasons:

In times of climate change and an increasing world population, innovations in the field of green biotechnology/plant breeding are regarded as of utmost essentiality. Encapsulating the vision of a sustainable production of food, energy and raw materials, the so called "knowledge-based bio-economy" will have a great impact on the forthcoming decades and has drawn the attention of public and private investments.

Moreover, patents as monopoly rights are regarded as potentially impeding plant-related innovations since genetic resources need to be used for every (initial) breeding, or as Wright/Pardley stated:"Breeding is a cumulative science, and seeds accumulate innovations".Negative effects of biotechnology and gene patents on dynamic efficiency are particularly serious considering that a plant with the respective yields to meet tomorrow's challenges is thought to be regulated by a complex multigenic interplay. The involvement of dozens or more genes is impairing a plant's quality while the effects of the genes' interaction is still poorly understood. Therefore, plant-related innovations are one good if not the best example to understand the complex of cumulative innovation.There has been growing attention to the extent in which the industry structure of plant breeding has changed since the mid 1980s, ending up being one of the most concentrated industries today.

This seminar will be held in German.


 Kristina Bette

Kristina Bette // Universität Marburg




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