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TRANSGENIC PLANTS AND WORLD AGRICULTURE
research and development to produce new transgenic plant varieties. If the rights to these tools are strongly and universally enforced —and not extensively licensed or provided pro bono in the developing world—then the potential applications of GM technologies described previously are unlikely to benefit the less developed nations of the world for a long time (i.e., until after the restrictions conveyed by these rights have expired).
Private companies today can obtain plant varieties free of charge from farmers and from non-commercial institutions such as the CGIAR, add one or more proprietary traits, and then release seed with a variety of forms of legal or technical protection against copying, farm retention, or farm-to-farm transmission. Thus, a market-based system exists, based in part on non-reimbursed contributions from farmers and institutions such as the CGIAR. This heavily concentrates advances in research within companies whose legitimate search for profit naturally fails to focus their research on poverty and long-term sustainability issues. Transgenic plants have intensified the dilemma because a high level of skill and infrastructure is needed to develop them. Moreover, broad patents have been granted to companies that secure their competitiveness in the market place. To help compensate, public-sector research by farmers, the CGIAR, and by national agricultural research systems needs to be strengthened and provided with increased resources and attention—both from governments and from the world's agricultural scientists. In addition, intellectual property rights should be obtained by these public-sector institutions for their discoveries so that these rights can be used in negotiations with the private sector to produce increased public benefit.
Intensive agriculture requires the use of certified seed (i.e., seed free of pathogens, pests, and weeds) and growers purchase new seed every year as an established practice. Most growers plant hybrid varieties of maize (corn) and other crops that are more uniform and vigorous than ordinary varieties because of heterosis (hybrid vigor) and these advantages are lost when second genera-