Title: Genetically modified crops, factor endowments, biased technological change, wages and poverty reduction

Authors: Jenifer Piesse, Colin Thirtle

Addresses: Department of Management, King's College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9HN, UK; University of Stellenbosch, RSA. ' Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2BP, UK; University of Pretoria, RSA

Abstract: Genetically Modified (GM), Herbicide Tolerant (HT) white maize, developed in the USA to save labour, is being grown by smallholders in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. This paper uses panel data for Africa, Asia and Latin America to investigate the effects of factor endowments and biased technological change on productivity growth, labour incomes and poverty reduction. Preliminary results show that lack of population pressure on the land slows yield growth, which itself largely explains labour productivity growth in agriculture. Labour productivity growth is the key determinant of wages, growth in GDP per capita and poverty reduction. Africa seems to have fared poorly in poverty reduction because many countries have abundant poor quality land. There has been yield growth, but it has not led to growth in labour productivity, as it did during the Asian green revolution. Thus, a GM technology that raises labour productivity could be beneficial, so long as employment is maintained.

Keywords: factor endowments; technological change; wages; poverty reduction; Sub-Saharan Africa; SSA; genetically modified crops; GM crops; agricultural biotechnology; South Africa; labour productivity; smallholders; white maize; Bt maize; Bacillus thuringiensis.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBT.2008.018354

International Journal of Biotechnology, 2008 Vol.10 No.2/3, pp.184 - 206

Published online: 18 May 2008 *

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