Biotech Updates

Economics of GM Crops Reviewed

December 4, 2009

Genetically modified crops can contribute significantly to food security and sustainable development at the global level. However, concerns about new risks have led to complex and costly biosafety, food safety, and labeling regulations. These are insights forwarded by Matin Qaim in a review paper The Economics of Genetically Modified Crops published in the Annual Review of Resource Economics. Qaim also notes the following:
  • Impact studies show that GM crops are beneficial to farmers and consumers and produce large aggregate welfare gains. In many cases, farmers in developing countries benefit more than farmers in developed countries.
  • Bt crops can be suitable for small-scale farmers. They contribute to higher household incomes and poverty reduction, when embedded in a conducive institutional environment.
  • Future GM crop applications, involving tolerance to abiotic stress and higher nutrient contents, may lead to much larger benefits.
Qiam's paper can be downloaded at