In recent years, mergers and acquisitions involving large multinational firms have reshaped the seed and biotechnology sector and have reduced the number of players in the industry. This consolidation process has prompted concerns about whether market concentration leads to reduced competition, higher prices, and lower innovation, which could hurt both farmers and consumers. However, so far little information has been available in the public domain about market concentration and its effects.

This OECD report provides an in-depth assessment of structural changes in global markets for seed and biotechnology based on new data on market concentration across a broad range of countries and crops, and considers potential policy responses.

This report was prepared in the Trade and Agriculture Directorate by Koen Deconinck and has benefited from comments made by delegates of OECD countries and numerous experts. The OECD acknowledges in particular the co-operation of the Competition Authorities of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, South Africa, and the United States. The OECD also wishes to thank the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) for providing access to its PLUTO Plant Variety Database.

Helpful comments were received from Stephen Malone (USDA), James MacDonald (USDA), Keith Fuglie (USDA), Paul Heisey (USDA), Marien Valstar (Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality & UPOV), Thomas Weber (European Commission – DG Sanco), Kyle Kierstead, Giuliano Tolusso and Brad Fraleigh (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), Pedro Lavignolle (INASE), Peter Button (UPOV), Annalisa Zezza (CREA), Anne-Laure Fondeur (GNIS), David Spielman (IFPRI), Dirk Theobald (CPVO), Osmat Jefferson (Cambia), Gregory Graff (Colorado State University), Robert Duncan (University of Manitoba), Richard Gray (University of Saskatchewan), Carl Pray (Rutgers University), Stéphane Lemarié (INRA), Sébastien Parenty (INRA), Julian Alston (UC Davis), Derek Brewin (University of Manitoba), Justus Wesseler (Wageningen University), Subash SP (ICAR, India) and Bernice Slutsky (ASTA).

This report benefited from comments by delegates to the OECD Seed Schemes meetings (30 January – 1 February 2018 and 28-29 June 2018), participants to the Swiss National Committee CNS-FAO (25-26 April 2018), and participants to the 22nd Conference of the International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research (12-15 June 2018).

The OECD wishes to thank Szabolcs Ruthner (International Seed Federation) and Arianna Giuliodori (World Farmers Organisation) for providing feedback from members of their respective organisations.

Within the OECD, this report benefited from helpful comments and suggestions by Jonathan Brooks, Csaba Gaspar, Hubertus Gay, Michael Ryan, Peter Kearns, and Antonio Capobianco. Editorial assistance was provided by Michèle Patterson.

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