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The Theory and Practice of Genetically Engineered Crops and Agricultural Sustainability

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  • David E. Ervin

    ()
    (Environmental Science and Management Program, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97207, USA
    Department of Economics, 1721 SW Broadway, Cramer Hall, Suite 241, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97201, USA
    Institute for Sustainable Solutions, P.O. Box 751, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97201, USA)

  • Leland L. Glenna

    ()
    (Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 16802, USA)

  • Raymond A. Jussaume

    ()
    (Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Room 107B Johnson Hall, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA)

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    Abstract

    The development of genetically engineered (GE) crops has focused predominantly on enhancing conventional pest control approaches. Scientific assessments show that these GE crops generally deliver significant economic and some environmental benefits over their conventional crop alternatives. However, emerging evidence indicates that current GE crops will not foster sustainable cropping systems unless the negative environmental and social feedback effects are properly addressed. Moreover, GE crop innovations that promote more sustainable agricultural systems will receive underinvestment by seed and chemical companies that must understandably focus on private returns for major crops. Opportunities to promote crops that convey multi-faceted benefits for the environment and the poor are foundational to a sustainable food system and should not be neglected because they also represent global public goods. In this paper, we develop a set of criteria that can guide the development of GE crops consistent with contemporary sustainable agriculture theory and practice. Based on those principles, we offer policy options and recommendations for reforming public and private R&D and commercialization processes to further the potential contributions of GE crops to sustainable agriculture. Two strategies that would help achieve this goal would be to restore the centrality of the public sector in agricultural R&D and to open the technology development process to more democratic participation by farmers and other stakeholders.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 6 (June)
    Pages: 847-874

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:6:p:847-874:d:12812

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    Related research

    Keywords: genetic engineering; sustainable agriculture; social impacts; democratic participation;

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    References

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    1. Bryan Hubbell & Rick Welsh, 1998. "Transgenic crops: Engineering a more sustainable agriculture?," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 43-56, March.
    2. Jack Kloppenburg & John Hendrickson & G. Stevenson, 1996. "Coming in to the foodshed," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 33-42, June.
    3. Huffman, Wallace E. & Norton, George W. & Traxler, Greg & Frisvold, George B. & Foltz, Jeremy D., 2006. "Winners and Losers: Formula versus Competitive Funding of Agricultural Research," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 21(4).
    4. Aerni, Philipp, 2009. "What is sustainable agriculture? Empirical evidence of diverging views in Switzerland and New Zealand," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1872-1882, April.
    5. Steven Buccola & David Ervin & Hui Yang, 2009. "Research Choice and Finance in University Bioscience," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 1238-1255, April.
    6. Schimmelpfennig, David E. & Pray, Carl E. & Brennan, Margaret F., 2004. "The impact of seed industry concentration on innovation: a study of US biotech market leaders," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 30(2), pages 157-167, March.
    7. Claassen, Roger & Hansen, LeRoy T. & Peters, Mark & Breneman, Vincent E. & Weinberg, Marca & Cattaneo, Andrea & Feather, Peter & Gadsby, Dwight M. & Hellerstein, Daniel & Hopkins, Jeffrey W. & Johnsto, 2001. "Agri-Environmental Policy at the Crossroads: Guideposts on a Changing Landscape," Agricultural Economics Reports 33983, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    8. Farley, Joshua & Costanza, Robert, 2010. "Payments for ecosystem services: From local to global," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2060-2068, September.
    9. Hoppe, Robert A. & Korb, Penelope J. & O'Donoghue, Erik J. & Banker, David E., 2007. "Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report, 2007 Edition," Economic Information Bulletin 59032, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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    Cited by:
    1. Sylvie Bonny, 2011. "Herbicide-tolerant Transgenic Soybean over 15 Years of Cultivation: Pesticide Use, Weed Resistance, and Some Economic Issues. The Case of the USA," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(9), pages 1302-1322, August.

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