The competitive effects of adopting modern biotechnical methods in plant breeding programs

Last changed: 17 June 2014

Master’s degree Thesis by Sebastian Olsson

Summary

The industry of agrobiotechnology is a relatively young industry dominated by multinational companies. The regulations surrounding the use of biotechnology to develop genetically modified crops have made it very hard for small or medium sized companies to compete in this industry due to high regulatory costs. The first part thesis describes the regulatory system for commercialization of GMOs in the EU and also presents estimations of the costs experienced by a company from this system. The second part of this thesis describes how biotechnology is used in plant breeding programs, using potato breeding as a specific example. With the help of researchers from Mistra Biotech, a new process for developing plant varieties using site-directed mutagenesis has been economically evaluated using a cost/benefit analysis. The results of this case study shows that site-directed mutagenesis using TALEN has the potential of greatly reducing the time and cost of conventional breeding programs. Benefits arise from the shortening of the breeding program which translates into higher net present values of released varieties and also on the ability of producing new varieties faster. The competitive advantage of adopting new biotechnical methods can be reduced developing cost, a more dynamic and faster developing process and a way of circumventing the GMO regulations. This could have different impacts on the industry since it could allow smaller companies to compete with multinational agrochemical companies. It could however also lead to a regained interest from the multinational companies in the European market which would force European companies to compete with much larger companies.

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