Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2000 (Revised April 2001)

Agricultural Biotechnology and its Regulation

by Forest L. Reinhardt


In the United States, genetically modified corn and soybeans are now widely grown and consumed. In Europe, however, they have been dubbed "Frankenstein foods," shunned by packaged food manufacturers, and subjected to a host of governmental restrictions. This case provides information on the economics and politics of agricultural biotechnology. It emphasizes the divergent attitudes in the United States and Europe about how the technology ought to be regulated and highlights the resultant strategic dilemmas for companies in the business, including DuPont, Monsanto, and Novartis. Students can analyze the technology and its regulators from both a normative public policy standpoint (i.e., asking what sorts of regulatory institutions would enhance social well-being) and the point of view of positive political economy (i.e., asking how the regulatory system is likely to evolve given the current institutional setup and the interests of the various public and private players). Raises questions of how firms can develop strategy under conditions of extreme regulatory risk.

Keywords: Agribusiness; Genetics; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Corporate Strategy; Trade; Law; Goods and Commodities; Safety; Environmental Sustainability; Government and Politics; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Biotechnology Industry; Europe; United States;


Reinhardt, Forest L. "Agricultural Biotechnology and its Regulation." Harvard Business School Case 701-004, July 2000. (Revised April 2001.)