Biotechnology in the developing world: A case for increased investments in orphan crops

Rosamond L. Naylor, Walter P. Falcon, Robert M. Goodman, Molly M. Jahn, Theresa Sengooba, Hailu Tefera, Rebecca J. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


This article examines the opportunities for using several forms of modern biotechnology to improve orphan crops in developing countries. These crops, including tef, millets, cowpea, and indigenous vegetables, fruits, roots, and tubers, tend to be locally important, but receive little public or private investment. Recent advances in the fields of genetics and genomics provide a more unified understanding of the biology of plants. We summarize some important ways in which genetic technologies can be harnessed for orphan crops and provide examples of potential genetic and genomics research that is likely to benefit poor regions. Finally, we suggest policies that could help create incentives for application of advanced science to orphan crops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-44
Number of pages30
JournalFood Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • Biotechnology
  • Direct gene transfer
  • Food security
  • Genomics
  • Germplasm improvement
  • Orphan crops


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