Reviving Global Poverty Reduction: What Role for Genetically Modified Plants?
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Sir John Crawford Memorial Lecture delivered by Michael Lipton of the Poverty Research Unit at the University of Sussex during CGIAR International Centers Week 1999. Lipton described the slow-down in progress against poverty in the developing world since the mid 1980s, and the changing agricultural research climate in which the private sector was preeminent and the most promising new technologies for raising yield potentials were the intellectual property of private firms. Reviewing the factors leading to the dramatic progress in poverty reduction from 1965 to 1985, Lipton discussed the central role of higher yields of food staples, which increased in ways that both increased the poor's access to those staples and created more workplaces for the poor. At the same time, a fertility transition was underway in East and Southeast Asia, and had created a 'demographic window of opportunity' during which a very high proportion of the population was of working age. Capitalizing on the fertility transition now becoming evident in parts of South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa would require increased yield potentials. Improving the presently sterile public policy dialogue about how to use privately owned genetic science technologies for this purpose was by Lipton's account an imperative of international agricultural research.
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