Economics of Agricultural Technology Regulation

This March 10-12, 2005 conference focused on methods and current issues in the economics of agricultural technology regulation. Emphasis was on forces shaping technology regulation in agriculture (e.g., biotechnology, commercial pesticides, food and feed additives, international trade), and the consequences for the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture and the food system.

Changes in agricultural technology are the wellspring of economic growth in developing countries and contribute importantly to economic well-being in rich countries. While generally providing net economic benefits, new technologies almost always involve some losers. Some of the negative
consequences involve external effects on human health or the environment.

The development, release, adoption and application of agricultural technologies is increasingly subject to public scrutiny and regulatory approval, reflecting concern about the consequences of technological alternatives. Technological regulations and regulatory processes differ among countries, among states within countries, across industries, and across types of technologies. Regulations modify the rate and form of technological change and the distribution of benefits and costs. The economic consequences are significant, but the full consequences of technological regulation in agriculture are not well understood.

This Farm Foundation Issue Report summarized the conference discussions. The conference was sponsored by Farm Foundation, the University of Maryland Agricultural Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Policy, and the Giannini Foundation.

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