Innovative appropriation: the role of law, economics and science in transforming plants into products - a case study of wheat breeding in the UK

Rangnekar, Dwijen (2000) Innovative appropriation: the role of law, economics and science in transforming plants into products - a case study of wheat breeding in the UK. (PhD thesis), Kingston University.

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The thesis is a case-study of wheat breeding in the UK. It is contextualised by a focus on the interacting influence of the three spheres of law, science and economics in determining the patterns of innovation and strategies of appropriation. Three concerns ground the thesis. The first concern is to develop a framework to analyse the dynamics of innovation-appropriation in plant breeding. Adopting an evolutionary approach, the thesis presents the technology paradigm of (wheat) breeding (chapter 5) and characteristic properties of the seed (chapter 6) as factors that substantially determine innovation-appropriation issues. Following this conceptualisation, the thesis posits that the main appropriation strategy is that of planned obsolescence which aims to subvert the durability of genetic information (software) embedded in seeds. Secondly, empirical measures of planned obsolescence are developed and examined (chapter 7). Empirical evidence of planned obsolescence is offered in terms of the diminishing age of varieties. The strategy of planned obsolescence is supported by a widening of varietal portfolios and breeding strategies aimed at maintaining narrow and specific disease resistance profiles and incremental productivity improvements. Innovation avenues of developing dwarf wheats, yield-quality tradeoff in bread wheats and F1-hybrids are assessed from the perspective of planned obsolescence. Finally, the thesis considers the institutional construction of the regulatory system in the UK with specific attention to the Plant Variety and Seeds Act (1964) of the UK (chapter 9). While popular claims of expediency and autonomy of action are dismissed, the discussion demonstrates the manner in which the rhetoric of national interest was deployed to generate consensus across divergent interest groups. Of key importance in the legislation in the delinking merit considerations from the grant of protection process, an achievement by the breeders that allowed the proliferation of near-identical varieties of marginally improved productivity. Consequently, the PBRs system is presented as a juridical legitimation of the strategy of planned obsolescence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Physical Location: This item is held in stock at Kingston University Library.
Research Area: Economics and econometrics
Depositing User: Automatic Import Agent
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2011 21:39
Last Modified: 23 May 2014 13:26

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