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A Meta Analysis on Farm-Level Costs and Benefits of GM Crops
Agri-Food and Agri-Environmental Economics Group, ETH Zürich, Sonneggstrasse 33, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
Ecologic Institute, Pfalzburger Strasse 43/44, 10717 Berlin, Germany
School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, P.O. Box 227, Reading, RG6 6AB, UK
Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, Guildford, GU2 7XH, UK
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 February 2011; in revised form: 15 April 2011 / Accepted: 3 May 2011 / Published: 10 May 2011
Abstract: This paper reviews the evidence on the socio-economic impacts of GM crops and analyzes whether there are patterns across space and time. To this end, we investigate the effect of GM crops on farm-level costs and benefits using global data from more than one decade of field trials and surveys. More specifically, we analyze the effects of GM-crops on crop yields, seed costs, pesticide costs, and management and labor costs and finally gross margins. Based on collected data from studies on Bt cotton and Bt maize, statistical analyses are conducted to estimate the effect of GM crop adoption on these parameters. Our results show that, compared to conventional crops, GM crops can lead to yield increases and can lead to reductions in the costs of pesticide application, whereas seed costs are usually substantially higher. Thus, the results presented here do support the contention that the adoption of GM crops leads on average to a higher economic performance, which is also underlined by the high adoption rates for GM crops in a number of countries. However, the kind and magnitude of benefits from GM crops are very heterogeneous between countries and regions, particularly due to differences in pest pressure and pest management practices. Countries with poor pest management practices benefited most from a reduction in yield losses, whereas other countries benefited from cost reductions. However, our study also reveals limitations for meta-analyses on farm-level costs and benefits of GM crops. In particular, published data are skewed towards some countries and the employed individual studies rely on different assumptions, purposes and methodologies (e.g., surveys and field trials). Furthermore, a summary of several (often) short-term individual studies may not necessarily capture long-term effects of GM crop adoption.
Keywords: biotechnology; GM crops; food security; technological change
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Finger, R.; El Benni, N.; Kaphengst, T.; Evans, C.; Herbert, S.; Lehmann, B.; Morse, S.; Stupak, N. A Meta Analysis on Farm-Level Costs and Benefits of GM Crops. Sustainability 2011, 3, 743-762.
Finger R, El Benni N, Kaphengst T, Evans C, Herbert S, Lehmann B, Morse S, Stupak N. A Meta Analysis on Farm-Level Costs and Benefits of GM Crops. Sustainability. 2011; 3(5):743-762.
Finger, Robert; El Benni, Nadja; Kaphengst, Timo; Evans, Clive; Herbert, Sophie; Lehmann, Bernard; Morse, Stephen; Stupak, Nataliya. 2011. "A Meta Analysis on Farm-Level Costs and Benefits of GM Crops." Sustainability 3, no. 5: 743-762.