Adoption of improved varieties across sub-Saharan Africa reached 70% for wheat, 45% for maize, 26% for rice, 19% for cassava, and 15% for sorghum by 2005 (17).
GR 2.0 must address these concerns both where the GR was successful and in low income countries and lagging regions, where agricultural productivity is still low.
This paper reviews the evidence on the diffusion and impact of GR crop genetic improvements and the limitations and unintended environmental, social, and institutional consequences of the GR strategy for productivity growth.
Private firms operating through markets have limited interest in public goods, because they do not have the capacity to capture much of the benefit through proprietary claims; also, because of the global, nonrival nature of the research products, no single nation has the incentive to invest public resources in this type of research.
International public goods institutions were needed to fill this gap, and efforts to develop the necessary institutional capacity, particularly in plant breeding, were a central part of the GR strategy.
However, global aggregates mask great geographic disparities.
In Asian countries (including China), the percentage of area planted to modern varieties was 82% by 1998, whereas improved varieties covered only 27% of total area planted in Africa (16).
Although populations had more than doubled, the production of cereal crops tripled during this period, with only a 30% increase in land area cultivated (1).
Dire predictions of a Malthusian famine were belied, and much of the developing world was able to overcome its chronic food deficits.
Based on the early successes with wheat at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Mexico and rice at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) was established specifically to generate technological spillovers for countries that underinvest in agricultural research, because they are unable to capture all of the benefits of those investments (3).
After CGIAR-generated knowledge, invention, and products (such as breeding lines) were made publicly available, national public and private sectors responded with investments for technology adaptation, dissemination, and delivery.
The productivity gains from crop germplasm improvement alone are estimated to have averaged 1.0% per annum for wheat (across all regions), 0.8% for rice, 0.7% for maize, and 0.5% and 0.6% for sorghum and millets, respectively (9).