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Genetically Modified Maize, Biodiversity, and Subsistence Farming in Mexico

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  • Joachim Zietz
  • R. Alan Seals

Abstract

Concern over the loss of genetic diversity in the world’s field crops has increased due to the commercial introduction of genetically modified crops. Mexico is particularly sensitive to this issue, as it is the center of genetic diversity for maize and home to a large number of indigenous farmers who propagate this diversity. This paper analyzes to what extent the biodiversity of maize may be endangered as subsistence farmers are forced off their land. Off-farm migration is suggested as a potential rational response of farmers to the large and rapidly growing imports of maize from the U.S., a large share of which consists of genetically modified maize. The maize imports from the U.S. are seen not only as worsening the terms of trade of subsistence farmers but also as raising the risk of lower yields as indigenous varieties of maize may lose their resilience to environmental stress through contamination with genetically modified maize.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Middle Tennessee State University, Department of Economics and Finance in its series Working Papers with number 200604.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:mts:wpaper:200604

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Web page: http://www.mtsu.edu/~berc/working/Economics_Working_Papers.html
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Keywords: genetically modified maize; biodiversity; maize imports; subsistence farming; supply response of farmers; off-farm migration; Mexico.;

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  1. Bellon, Mauricio R. & Adato, Michelle & Becerril, Javier & Mindek, Dubravka, 2006. "Poor farmers' perceived benefits from different types of maize germplasm: The case of creolization in lowland tropical Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 113-129, January.
  2. Smale, Melinda & Bellon, Mauricio R & Aguirre Gomez, Jose Alfonso, 2001. "Maize Diversity, Variety Attributes, and Farmers' Choices in Southeastern Guanajuato, Mexico," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(1), pages 201-25, October.
  3. Bellon, Mauricio R., 2001. "Demand and Supply of Crop Infraspecific Diversity on Farms: Towards a Policy Framework for On-Farm Conservation," Economics Working Papers 7666, CIMMYT: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
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