Philip Pardey in a wheat field on the St. Paul Campus.

Bio-Economic Assessments of Innovation in Food and Agriculture: Policies and Practices in an International Setting

Principal Investigator

Philip Pardey

Department and College

Department of Applied Economics in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Project Number


Funding Type


Project Start and End Date

October 1, 2016-September 30, 2021

Project Summary

Concerns about global food security prospects in the face of slowing agricultural productivity growth, increasing resource scarcities (specifically water and land), and changing patterns of weather and climate are continuing, if not intensifying. Sustainably balancing the global food security equation turns largely on the future path of agricultural productivity, and the changes in technology that are a principal determinant of the pace of productivity growth. The amount, orientation, and effectiveness of investments in R&D shape our technological futures, but these R&D and productivity processes play out over comparatively long periods of time demanding a long-run perspective. In addition, the natural inputs (such as soils, weather, and topography) that affect agricultural production are spatially variable, and so an explicitly geospatial perspective is required to properly assess the R&D, technical change, and productivity growth potentials of agriculture.

Public and private decisions shaping science and technology increasingly involve international dimensions. Investments in research in one locale have spillover consequences in other locations and other areas of science. International agreements and policy initiatives and the actions of governments and (multinational) firms regarding trade, regulatory and intellectual property (IP) concerns also impinge on and are affected by innovation processes. All of these questions are prompting substantive reassessments of public and private roles in the food and agriculturally related bio-sciences.

This project will undertake a range of inter-related economic studies, the ultimate objective of which is to inform and thereby influence strategic policy choices and actions dealing with (bio-)science and (bio-)technology practices and policies. The research deals with both the public and private dimensions of science and technology, and their implications for the conduct, performance and economic consequences of R&D worldwide. This project will address several interrelated areas of the biosciences, emphasizing (but not limited to) aspects concerning the policies and practices that affect the research investments in and productivity performance of global agriculture. Identify the varying local and spillover effects of biotechnologies in a systematic way using new GIS data bases combined with a fusion of new and evolving bio-economic modeling methods (some being developed by this research) can significantly improve the information available to make best use of the limited public and private investments targeted to sustaining or enhancing agricultural productivity gains.