Setting the Stage | 9

veloping countries. This is a push/pull flow of knowledge and technology because developing countries often are ea­ger for access to the factors that have helped NAE become a dominant force in global production and marketing of agricultural goods and services

    Although NAE no longer controls most of the develop­ing world as colonies, it still holds sufficient political and economic power to influence the internal affairs of devel­oping countries, including choices of development paths. Along with tangible exports and discrete clusters of AKST, NAE has the influence to ensure that concepts and ideas about economic development held by powerful entities in the region are adopted in other regions. These concepts have been especially influential when they infuse mandatory struc­tural adjustment plans or poverty reduction plans, or when granting a loan or other aid is contingent on adopting them. NAE's footprint

The application of AKST in NAE has expanded its eco­logical footprint and social impacts in other regions. This is largely due to NAE's volume and variety of exports and imports, and the many actors and networks within NAE that dominate agrifood chains. The globalized agricultural system, in which importers source raw products from the cheapest source and seek to sell processed products where they garner the highest price possible, touches every coun­try in the world. Developing countries frequently supply the genetic resources; unprocessed food, feed and fiber; and la­bor to process commodities into goods that can be sold at higher prices, yet they do not garner the profits gained from adding value. Demand for cash crops, including biofuel, has trumped land use for subsistence farming from Brazil to In­donesia; demand for cheap labor for farm work or food processing results in workers finding it increasingly difficult to earn livelihoods from agriculture.

     Nations do not simply use the natural resources within their own borders. For example, a country may appear to be self sufficient in water if water is not imported directly, but large quantities of "virtual water" may be imported via water used to grow, manufacture and transport agricultural and industrial produce. The US has the largest water foot­print in the world, with 2480 m3 yr-1 per capita, followed by the people in southern European countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain (2300-2400 m3 yr-1 per capita) (Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2007). Equally, by importing food, coun­tries import primary production also, denying it from local ecosystems. Most countries in NAE have footprints beyond the capacity of their own territories to support, except for the arctic countries of Canada, Russia and Sweden, and Ro­mania and Belarus (Global Footprint Network, 2006).

      NAE has a "consumption footprint" as well as a foot­print connected with production. "Western" diets high in fats, salt, sugar and processed foods have spread rapidly into developing countries around the world. Their brand-names can be seen in the smallest and remotest villages. Ad­vertising has helped to create demand for dietary changes, such as more processed food and bottled water, which has large impacts on material use and waste disposal. Dietary changes in the proportions of beef and other large animals consumed have dramatic effects on land use worldwide and the amount of land required to feed a population. Wealth and political power

Countries in NAE have unique characteristics stemming from their histories and assets that make them critical to meeting development and sustainability goals. NAE coun­tries  and  corporations  have  disproportionate  power  in AKST (and in science and technology more generally) com­pared with other world regions. The NAE region contains the wealthiest nations in the world and many of the coun­tries with the steadiest and most sustained growth in per capita income since 1945. Much of this wealth has accrued through extracting resources and the profits of labor from other regions.

      Agricultural knowledge and technology are controlled in unusual ways in NAE, compared to other regions of the world: the private sector plays a dominant role, especially in North America. The ratio of public to private investment in agricultural research has dropped steadily since 1980. As late as 1940, agricultural research represented 40% of all federal research funding, but national security concerns be­came preeminent with World War II (Fuglie et al., 1996). Investment in private agricultural research has grown more rapidly than public investment in research and has exceeded funds for public research since 1980 (Meeks, 2006). NAE countries are the point of origin of most TNCs that now dominate globalized food systems. Six of the top ten pes­ticide companies by total sales, eight of the top ten seed companies, all of the top ten global food retailers and all of the top ten beverage and food processing corporations are based in the United States or Western Europe (ETC Group 2005). NAE countries are also the source of development of most genetically modified organisms, and companies based in NAE hold more than half of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) relevant to agriculture.

      Institutional and organizational shifts in NAE agri­culture may presage similar shifts in developing countries. As the influence of traditional agricultural interest groups and state governments wanes, the power of organizations dominated by the private sector and civil society is waxing. These power shifts are related to the application of AKST: greater wealth and power allow greater access to AKST and sometimes greater capacity to create AKST to serve one's own needs. For example, knowledge of global market trends and prices is critical to the success of major agribusiness­es involved in trade, and they can access this information more readily than a small-scale producer. While part of their advantage is due to economies of scale, policies that favor large businesses are influential as well. Power shifts in agri­culture in North America are mirrored by rising inequity of wealth and assets.

1.4 Description of the Region

1.4.1 Social, political and economic development  Prior to 1945

It is thought that people first entered the NAE region via southwest Asia, spreading northwest into Europe and east into Asia some 40,000 years ago, and into North America across the Bering Strait land bridge between 15,000 and 9,000 years ago (Dixon, 2001). While waves of nomadic migration, conquest and trade resulted in intermittent in-