N. Chandrasekhara Rao
Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi
Carl E. Pray
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Ronald J. Herring
Cornell University

Long-term stagnation in total factor productivity of major crops in Indian agriculture coupled with a price-incentive-based spurt in recent growth have been responsible for the reversal of secular decline in food prices achieved in earlier decades with the success of the Green Revolution. This article traces the demands for new technology in the country’s agriculture, examines the promise of biotechnology and demystifies controversies surrounding these technologies, summarizes the articles in this special issue, and then analyzes the challenges of mainstreaming biotechnology in policy making. It argues that the problem is not so much the proprietary nature of these technologies, but excessive regulation that is stifling technology development and diffusion as well as driving out many small players and several useful applications. Science-based regulation has to be put in place and the ban (moratorium) on commercialization has to be revoked immediately. Reenergizing the public sector to accelerate investments in these technologies is the best remedy to address market failures and also to gain acceptability from the public. Political leadership has to make bold decisions with a vision of taking the sector forward, much like C. Subramaniam did in the 1960s to usher in the Green Revolution.

Key words: Technology fatigue, framing GMOs, public choice, panel data models, private sector R&D, labeling, biotechnology regulatory authority.