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Crop Biotech Update

A Meta-analysis of the Impacts of Biotech Crops

November 5, 2014

Despite the rapid adoption of genetically modified (GM) crops by farmers in many countries, controversies about this technology continue. Uncertainty about GM crop impacts is one reason for widespread public suspicion. Wilhelm Klümper and Matin Qaim from the University of Goettingen (Germany) have carried out a meta-analysis of the agronomic and economic impacts of GM crops to consolidate the evidences. The analysis covers 147 original studies that were carried out internationally over the last 20 years. On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect resistant crops than for herbicide tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries. The meta-analysis reveals robust evidence of GM crop benefits. Such evidence may help to gradually increase public trust in this technology.

The results were published recently in PLOS ONE. The open access article can be downloaded at: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0111629.