Investment matters when it comes to gains in economic productivity over time – even in the cornfield.

posted in: Syndicated | 6

In an earlier post, we quoted Klaus Ammann’s investigation of maize yields and the differences between the United States and Europe in improvement in these yields over time.

This post provides an update of this story, showing encouraging recent progress in United States maize yields per hectare, as compared to a discouraging parameter for maize yield performance in the European Union. To represent the EU we use national statistics for France and Italy. The graphs are based on FAOSTAT statistics.

The United States is showing steady progress over time in national average corn yield per hectare, whereas the growth of maize productivity in the European Union has been stultified. During the same time period, biotech crops have been used extensively in the United States but are essentially banned in these two European countries.

Possibly the antitechnology stance in the European Union is is limiting the amount of investment in plant breeding that they can sustain. It also seems likely, given the growth of commercial agricultural biotechnology research in the United States, that there has been much more private investment in maize breeding in the United States than is happening in the European Union.

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David Tribe is an applied geneticist, teaching graduate/undergrad courses in food science, food safety, biotechnology and microbiology at the University of Melbourne.