Foregone benefits of important food crop improvements in Sub-Saharan Africa

A number of new crops have been developed that address important traits of particular relevance for smallholder farmers in Africa. Scientists, policy makers, and other stakeholders have raised concerns that the approval process for these new crops causes delays that are often scientifically unjustified. This article develops a real option model for the optimal regulation of a risky technology that enhances economic welfare and reduces malnutrition. We consider gradual adoption of the technology and show that delaying approval reduces uncertainty about perceived risks of the technology. Optimal conditions for approval incorporate parameters of the stochastic processes governing the dynamics of risk.

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