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Testing assumptions underlying economic research on transgenic food crops for Third World farmers: Evidence from Cuba, Guatemala and Mexico

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  • Soleri, Daniela
  • Cleveland, David A.
  • Glasgow, Garrett
  • Sweeney, Stuart H.
  • Cuevas, Flavio Aragón
  • Fuentes, Mario R.
  • Ríos L., Humberto

Abstract

Transgenic crop varieties (TGVs) are being promoted as essential for improving small-scale Third World (SSTW) agriculture. Most economic research on this topic makes critical, untested assumptions, including that farmers will choose TGVs over other varieties because TGVs are economically optimal and because farmers are risk neutral profit maximizers. We tested these assumptions using data from a survey of 334 farmers in 6 communities in Cuba, Guatemala and Mexico in which farmers ranked 4 real and hypothetical maize varieties for eating and sowing. Our results did not support these assumptions. Most farmers preferred farmer varieties for sowing and especially for eating, avoiding TGVs, a preference associated with being risk averse and with non-monetary preferences. Farmers more integrated into modern agriculture were more likely to choose TGVs. These results suggest that farmers most in need of support and most important for conserving genetic diversity are least favorable toward TGVs, and that alternative ways of improving SSTW agriculture should receive more attention.

Suggested Citation

  • Soleri, Daniela & Cleveland, David A. & Glasgow, Garrett & Sweeney, Stuart H. & Cuevas, Flavio Aragón & Fuentes, Mario R. & Ríos L., Humberto, 2008. "Testing assumptions underlying economic research on transgenic food crops for Third World farmers: Evidence from Cuba, Guatemala and Mexico," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 667-682, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:67:y:2008:i:4:p:667-682
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Matthew Schnurr & Sarah Mujabi-Mujuzi, 2014. "“No one asks for a meal they’ve never eaten.” Or, do African farmers want genetically modified crops?," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 31(4), pages 643-648, December.
    2. Glenn Davis Stone & Dominic Glover, 2017. "Disembedding grain: Golden Rice, the Green Revolution, and heirloom seeds in the Philippines," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 34(1), pages 87-102, March.
    3. Fischer, Klara, 2016. "Why new crop technology is not scale-neutral—A critique of the expectations for a crop-based African Green Revolution," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(6), pages 1185-1194.
    4. Klara Fischer & Elisabeth Ekener-Petersen & Lotta Rydhmer & Karin Edvardsson Björnberg, 2015. "Social Impacts of GM Crops in Agriculture: A Systematic Literature Review," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(7), pages 1-23, July.
    5. Glenn Stone & Andrew Flachs, 2014. "The problem with the farmer’s voice," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 31(4), pages 649-653, December.
    6. Kouser, Shahzad & Qaim, Matin, 2011. "Impact of Bt cotton on pesticide poisoning in smallholder agriculture: A panel data analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 2105-2113, September.

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