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Correction published on 30 June 2011, see Sustainability 2011, 3(7), 955-956.

Open AccessArticle
Sustainability 2011, 3(6), 847-874; doi:10.3390/su3060847

The Theory and Practice of Genetically Engineered Crops and Agricultural Sustainability

Environmental Science and Management Program, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97207, USA
Department of Economics, 1721 SW Broadway, Cramer Hall, Suite 241, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97201, USA
Institute for Sustainable Solutions, P.O. Box 751, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97201, USA
Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 16802, USA
Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Room 107B Johnson Hall, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 May 2011 / Revised: 7 June 2011 / Accepted: 7 June 2011 / Published: 17 June 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biotechnology and Sustainable Development)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [293 KB, 24 February 2015; original version 24 February 2015]


The development of genetically engineered (GE) crops has focused predominantly on enhancing conventional pest control approaches. Scientific assessments show that these GE crops generally deliver significant economic and some environmental benefits over their conventional crop alternatives. However, emerging evidence indicates that current GE crops will not foster sustainable cropping systems unless the negative environmental and social feedback effects are properly addressed. Moreover, GE crop innovations that promote more sustainable agricultural systems will receive underinvestment by seed and chemical companies that must understandably focus on private returns for major crops. Opportunities to promote crops that convey multi-faceted benefits for the environment and the poor are foundational to a sustainable food system and should not be neglected because they also represent global public goods. In this paper, we develop a set of criteria that can guide the development of GE crops consistent with contemporary sustainable agriculture theory and practice. Based on those principles, we offer policy options and recommendations for reforming public and private R&D and commercialization processes to further the potential contributions of GE crops to sustainable agriculture. Two strategies that would help achieve this goal would be to restore the centrality of the public sector in agricultural R&D and to open the technology development process to more democratic participation by farmers and other stakeholders.
Keywords: genetic engineering; sustainable agriculture; social impacts; democratic participation genetic engineering; sustainable agriculture; social impacts; democratic participation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ervin, D.E.; Glenna, L.L.; Jussaume, R.A., Jr. The Theory and Practice of Genetically Engineered Crops and Agricultural Sustainability. Sustainability 2011, 3, 847-874.

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