Agricultural Biotechnology: Economics, Environment, Ethics, and the Future

Posted: 22 Oct 2013

See all articles by Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett

University of California, Davis - Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture

Cecilia Chi-Ham

University of California, Davis - Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture

Geoffrey Barrows

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Steven Sexton

Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy

David Zilberman

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics

Date Written: October 2013

Abstract

Agricultural biotechnology and, specifically, the development of genetically modified (GM) crops have been controversial for several reasons, including concerns that the technology poses potential negative environmental or health effects, that the technology would lead to the (further) corporatization of agriculture, and that it is simply unethical to manipulate life in the laboratory. GM crops have been part of the agricultural landscape for more than 15 years and have now been adopted on more than 170 million hectares (ha) in both developed countries (48%) and developing countries (52%). On the basis of this substantial history and data spanning many years, the economic and environmental impacts of GM crops can now be summarized with some certainty, and the analysis indicates that, on balance, many benefits have accrued from the adoption of GM crops. There continue to be many ethical issues that are being debated, and many are being resolved through institutional interventions. The future of agricultural productivity would be better served if the genetic modification debate were less polarized and were focused on the potential for complementarity of GM technologies within a diversified farming system framework.

Suggested Citation

Bennett, Alan and Chi-Ham, Cecilia and Barrows, Geoffrey and Sexton, Steven and Zilberman, David, Agricultural Biotechnology: Economics, Environment, Ethics, and the Future (October 2013). Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 38, pp. 249-279, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2343673 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-050912-124612

Alan Bennett

University of California, Davis - Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture ( email )

Davis, CA 95616
United States

Cecilia Chi-Ham

University of California, Davis - Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture ( email )

Davis, CA 95616
United States

Geoffrey Barrows

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics ( email )

207 Giannini Hall
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/geoffreybarrows/

Steven Sexton

Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy ( email )

201 Science Drive
Box 90312
Durham, NC 27708-0239
United States

David Zilberman

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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