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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)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • David E. Ervin & Leland L. Glenna & Raymond A. Jussaume, 2011. "The Theory and Practice of Genetically Engineered Crops and Agricultural Sustainability," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(6), pages 1-28, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:6:p:847-874:d:12812
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Bryan Hubbell & Rick Welsh, 1998. "Transgenic crops: Engineering a more sustainable agriculture?," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 15(1), pages 43-56, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:oup:rseval:v:27:y:2018:i:1:p:36-42. is not listed on IDEAS
    2. 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.
    3. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:35:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10460-017-9842-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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 1-21, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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