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Public sector plant breeding in a privatizing world

The following is the first part of the abstract of a paper by Paul W. Heisey, Chittur S. Srinivasan, and Colin G. Thirtle of the USDA Economic Research Service.

Abstract: Intellectual property protection, globalization, and pressure on public budgets in many industrialized countries have shifted the balance of plant breeding activity from the public to the private sector.

Several economic factors influence the relative shares of public versus private sector plant breeding activity, with varying results over time, over country, and over crop.

The private sector, for example, dominates corn breeding throughout the industrialized world, but public and private activities in wheat breeding differ widely in Western Europe, different regions of the United States, Canada, and Australia. Public sector involvement in plant breeding may have benefits to society that the private sector's activities may not, fostering greater sharing of information and more work on traits of plant varieties (such as environmental suitability and nutritional characteristics) that may be under-researched by private breeding programs.

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