Science and technology in cutting-edge agricultural biotechnology research Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/wp988p056

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  • The genetic engineering made possible by the discovery of recombinant DNA has played an increasingly important role in agricultural research. The present study employs a knowledge production model to assess the efficacy of, and relationship between, basic and applied research in agricultural biotechnology, allowing for both complementarity and substitutability between these two research endeavors. Practical measures of basic and applied research outputs, and a paper trail characterizing the information flows between them, are constructed using a unique database on agricultural biotechnology patents and patent-cited scientific publications. Results suggest university bioscience research and graduate education are mostly complements, or in some cases slight substitutes, for one another. Highly ranked universities are less efficient than are their lower-ranked counterparts in producing not only graduate students but the bioscience that is cited in agricultural biotechnology patents. University R&D expenditures have been inoptimally allocated between post-doctoral fellows and non-post-doctoral inputs. Higher returns to R&D funding would be achieved by diverting some such funds away from non-post-doctoral inputs and toward post-doctoral fellows, and away from biology programs and toward agricultural programs. Commercial firms' agricultural and non-agricultural (primarily pharmaceutical) research are complements to one another. Firms' propensity to patent agricultural biotechnology inventions, rather than hold them as trade secrets, has increased significantly, while their propensity to patent in non-agricultural or non-biotechnology fields has fallen. Biotechnology firms have devoted too little of their R&D expenditures to scientists and engineers and too much to non-salary inputs. Boosting biotech firms' R&D expenditures would bring only a small change in their agricultural biotechnology output but a large increase in their non-agbiotech output. In the production of agricultural biotechnology innovations alone, basic bioscience and applied biotechnology appear always to be complementary with one another. But in the production of non-agricultural innovations, bioscience and applied technology are either complements or substitutes, depending upon the manner in which R&D expenditures are allocated. In general, choices among alternative R&D inputs greatly influence the effectiveness of R&D investments in agricultural biotechnology. Complementarity between science and technology in agriculture suggests boosting communication between basic and applied research would bring high social dividends.
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