Changes in the Organization and Institutions of AKST and Consequences for Development and Sustainability Goals | 117

Key Messages

1. Following the Second World War, agricultural knowl­edge, science and technology (AKST) had a major role in developing agriculture such that food security was achieved in most parts of NAE. Higher levels of food se­curity were achieved in western regions of NAE compared to the eastern regions partly due to a more decentralized approach to decision-making in AKST and more integration among research, education and extension.

2. Application of solely production-focused AKST in NAE has been associated with positive consequences but also major negative socioeconomic and environ­mental externalities, not just within but beyond the NAE borders. These externalities have been increasingly recognized and attempts are being made to address them, e.g., by addressing and quantifying them through research and reducing them through different policy instruments.

3. AKST approaches integrating different perspectives are increasingly considered to be fruitful and have been applied to varying degrees by different countries in NAE.
•     Many negative externalities of AKST would likely have been less significant in the past had different disciplines and stakeholders interacted in development and appli­cation of AKST more extensively. The development in such integration has proceeded mainly in approaches (e.g., research programs, research methods, or educa­tional programs) rather than in organizational struc­tures. Integration has not always proceeded smoothly as a number of barriers have been encountered. On the other hand, some erosion of important established dis­ciplinary expertise has recently occurred as public finan­cial resources for AKST had to cover a wider range of disciplines.
•     Integration amongst research, education and extension was from the beginning built into American AKST in contrast to AKST in many European countries. Such integration, as well as integration of AKST and KST and of relevant policies and administrative sectors, has to some extent proceeded recently at the governmental level in Western Europe, increasing the potential to ef­fectively enhance interrelated development and sustain-ability goals.
•     Food systems approaches, as an example of integration, have since the 1990s shown great potential as a way for AKST to address more comprehensively development and sustainability goals.

4. Between 1945 and the mid-1970s there was a period of rapid growth rates in public agricultural research and development expenditures in NAE. The growth rates then declined. The 1990s saw a slight increase but the growth rates stagnated thereafter despite the by then much broader scope of agricultural R&D. Even if the share of public agricultural R&D expenditure from the total R&D expenditure declined, agricultural R&D expenditure relative to the value of agricultural output in-


technology research in general. The share of public agricul­tural research funds given to universities increased consid­erably from the 1970s onwards in parts of NAE, leading to a shift towards basic research. The economic returns of investments into agricultural R&D have been high with no evidence for a decline, thus offering an argument for ensur­ing the public funding to meet development and sustain­ability goals.

5. The proportion of private funding of AKST in North America and Western Europe has increased since the Second World War, a change that influenced the type of agriculture-related research conducted as well as the allocation of public funding for research, training and extension. Thus the focus of NAE AKST shifted more towards market-driven goals and away from public goods.

6. There have been efforts to streamline public agri­cultural research in the last quarter of the 20th century in some parts of NAE, which had positive as well as negative impacts on AKST. Competition and short-term contracts were increasingly built into the public sector fund­ing system for AKST in NAE. The aim of this change was to ensure quality, transparency and efficiency. However, there is some evidence that this development reduces rather than increases efficiency. In addition, short-term approaches are not necessarily appropriate for all areas of AKST relevant to the development goals (e.g., integrated approaches, research aimed at sustainability and ecosystem management). Where rationalization of facilities took place in response to changes in priorities and scientific methods and to take advantage of new economies of size and scope, this has been beneficial. However, where the aim has been solely to reduce costs, this has also contributed to a fragmentation and weakening of the disciplinary research base and to loss of crucial scientific expertise and facilities.

7. NAE AKST had a major direct and indirect role in the development of the world's agrifood systems. It contributed to successfully reducing hunger in some regions beyond NAE, but had also adverse ecological and socioeconomic effects. In some areas the tech­nology transfer approach was far from successful.
•     Agricultural R&D has become increasingly spatially concentrated, increasing inequity. OECD countries and transition economies use most of the resources. This was contributed to by the increase in private funding in NAE. Spending on international R&D (CGIAR) grew in the 1970s but subsequently real spending started to stagnate and decline while the share of restricted funds increased. Expenditures have increased again since 2001 but only represent 1.5% of the global public sector in­vestments in agricultural R&D and 0.9% of all public and private agricultural R&D spending.
•     Factors that increasingly limit spillovers from NAE to developing countries include regulatory policies like IPR, biosafety protocols and trading regimes and the fact that technologies developed in NAE are increas­ingly less appropriate for poor farming communities.