This article reviews contributions made by agricultural research programmes in historical context. Before 1850, when the agricultural experiment station (AES) model was developed, most crop and livestock improvement was due to farmer selection of seeds and livestock breeding. By 1875, a number of plant breeding programmes were in place. Developed countries achieved a green revolution in the first half of the 20th century, developing countries in the second half. A number of countries are now benefiting from the gene revolution. An assessment of social returns to public spending on agricultural research shows these returns to be high.
KeywordsAgricultural research Ehrlich, P. Genetically modified (GM) crops Green revolution Green revolution modern varieties (GRMVs) Griliches, Z. Internal rate of return (IRR) International agricultural research centers (IARCs) Mendel, G. National agricultural research system (NARS) Patents Precautionary principle Recombinant DNA (rDNA) gene revolution Returns to research
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