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Abstract

Intellectual Property Regimes (IPRs) have been justified on the basis that they promote innovation, but it is not always clear that they do so. Empirical studies of IPRs in an Australian context have been limited. Plant variety protection is one form of IPR. The passing of the Australian Plant Breeder’s Rights Act of 1994 has been followed by significant commercialisation of the wheat breeding industry. The purpose of this paper is to consider whether this commercialisation has benefited wheat productivity through varietal improvement. We estimate a linear crop production function, using a random effects Hausman Taylor estimator to evaluate differences in genetic contributions to productivity between public and private wheat varieties commercially released in NSW over the period 1992-2009 using crop varietal data. Results from the Hausman Taylor estimator show that private varieties, on average, have outperformed public varieties over the period, suggesting that Plant Breeder’s Rights has promoted productive innovation in wheat. However, when we consider the best performing genetics of the varieties, public varieties have, in some years, outperformed privately bred varieties.

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