The economic impact of transgenic crops in developing countries: a note on the methods
by Melinda Smale, Patricia Zambrano, Jose Falck-Zepeda, Guillaume Gruere, Ira Matuschke
International Journal of Biotechnology (IJBT), Vol. 10, No. 6, 2008

Abstract: A vast literature has accumulated since crop varieties with transgenic resistance to insects and herbicide tolerance were released to farmers in 1996 and 1997. A comparatively minor segment of this literature consists of studies conducted by agricultural economists to measure the farm-level impact of transgenic crop varieties, the size and distribution of the economic benefits from adopting them and the implications for international trade. This paper focuses only on the applied economics literature about the impact of transgenic crop varieties in non-industrialised agricultural systems, with a focus on the methods. A number of studies have surveyed the findings for both industrialised and non-industrialised agriculture at various points in time, but surveys of methods are less common and most treat one aspect of economic impact. Clearly, the methods used in research influence the findings that are presented and what they mean. Three levels of impact analysis are considered: farm, industry and trade. We conclude that because the methods used present challenges and limitations, the few transgenic crop-trait combinations released in developing economies and the relatively brief time frame of most analyses, the results are promising but the balance sheet is mixed. Thus, the findings of current case studies should not be generalised to other locations, crops and traits.

Online publication date:: Fri, 09-Jan-2009

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