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Promise, problems and prospects: agri-biotech governance in China, India and Japan

Promise, problems and prospects: agri-biotech governance in China, India and Japan PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to examine the potential of agri-biotech to play a role in meeting the world’s food, feed, fiber and fuel needs. Using case studies, policy developments in the key Asian countries of China, India and Japan are also scrutinized to determine the extent to which they enable or obstruct biotech’s potential.Design/methodology/approachThe authors first examine some key challenges facing the agriculture and agri-food sector and the potential role biotech can play in addressing them. These challenges include feeding the world’s growing population, improving nutrition worldwide, dealing with allergen risks, reducing nutrient and chemical loading in watersheds, addressing water scarcity issues, and reducing waste in the food system. The authors then turn their attention to the agri-biotech systems in three Asian giants, including China’s centralized governance approach, India’s central-local policy and regulations, and Japan’s pragmatic and evidence-based regulatory framework.FindingsEach nation has evolved its own system of governance based on the different challenges facing the society, the recognized potential of different biotech interventions, and citizens’ collective perceptions regarding both the potential and the risks that biotech innovations embody. Systems that are less evidence-based appear to be more discretionary and therefore are less predictable in their outcomes. This increases risks to prospective exporting firms and importing firms, driving up system costs and effectively serving as barriers to entry and to trade. It also dampens and distorts entrepreneurial and innovation incentives.Research limitations/implicationsFrom the review and observations the authors then discuss ways and means of establishing priorities through a risk assessment framework in which key risks are enumerated and assessed in terms of their likelihoods and their conceivable consequences. Such an approach would allow challenges to be met with a degree of foresight and adaptability.Practical implicationsThe sometimes disjointed, sometimes strategic use of biotech regulations have fragmented markets and created fiefdoms which undermine the potential of novel technologies to address the challenges facing society.Social implicationsFor illustrative purposes, the authors touch on land and water governance, regulatory and institutional bottlenecks and reforms and the potential for agri-biotech to play an elevated role if vested interests and obstructions can be overcome.Originality/valueThis study draws on research and literature from several disciplines. It also includes discussions relating to bureaucratic and administrative behavior which erodes the extent to which markets can be contested. This results in balkanized markets and non-cooperative behavior that undermines and distorts incentives for entrepreneurial effort and innovation. That such behavior takes place in markets and disciplines that are fundamental to assuring food security, nutrition and health, as well as good governance of scarce water and land resources is of considerable concern. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Agricultural Economic Review Emerald Publishing

Promise, problems and prospects: agri-biotech governance in China, India and Japan

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1756-137X
DOI
10.1108/CAER-02-2017-0028
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to examine the potential of agri-biotech to play a role in meeting the world’s food, feed, fiber and fuel needs. Using case studies, policy developments in the key Asian countries of China, India and Japan are also scrutinized to determine the extent to which they enable or obstruct biotech’s potential.Design/methodology/approachThe authors first examine some key challenges facing the agriculture and agri-food sector and the potential role biotech can play in addressing them. These challenges include feeding the world’s growing population, improving nutrition worldwide, dealing with allergen risks, reducing nutrient and chemical loading in watersheds, addressing water scarcity issues, and reducing waste in the food system. The authors then turn their attention to the agri-biotech systems in three Asian giants, including China’s centralized governance approach, India’s central-local policy and regulations, and Japan’s pragmatic and evidence-based regulatory framework.FindingsEach nation has evolved its own system of governance based on the different challenges facing the society, the recognized potential of different biotech interventions, and citizens’ collective perceptions regarding both the potential and the risks that biotech innovations embody. Systems that are less evidence-based appear to be more discretionary and therefore are less predictable in their outcomes. This increases risks to prospective exporting firms and importing firms, driving up system costs and effectively serving as barriers to entry and to trade. It also dampens and distorts entrepreneurial and innovation incentives.Research limitations/implicationsFrom the review and observations the authors then discuss ways and means of establishing priorities through a risk assessment framework in which key risks are enumerated and assessed in terms of their likelihoods and their conceivable consequences. Such an approach would allow challenges to be met with a degree of foresight and adaptability.Practical implicationsThe sometimes disjointed, sometimes strategic use of biotech regulations have fragmented markets and created fiefdoms which undermine the potential of novel technologies to address the challenges facing society.Social implicationsFor illustrative purposes, the authors touch on land and water governance, regulatory and institutional bottlenecks and reforms and the potential for agri-biotech to play an elevated role if vested interests and obstructions can be overcome.Originality/valueThis study draws on research and literature from several disciplines. It also includes discussions relating to bureaucratic and administrative behavior which erodes the extent to which markets can be contested. This results in balkanized markets and non-cooperative behavior that undermines and distorts incentives for entrepreneurial effort and innovation. That such behavior takes place in markets and disciplines that are fundamental to assuring food security, nutrition and health, as well as good governance of scarce water and land resources is of considerable concern.

Journal

China Agricultural Economic ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Sep 4, 2017

References