Genetically Modified Rice, Yields, and Pesticides: Assessing Farm-Level Productivity Effects in China
Although genetically modified (GM) crops are being grown on increasing large areas in both developed and developing countries, with few minor exceptions, there has been almost no country that has commercialized a GM major food crop. One reason may be that it is unclear how the commercialization of GM crops will help poor, small farmers. The objective of this article is to report on the results of an economic analysis that uses 3 years of data from a series of quasi-experimental areas (called preproduction trials) in China’s GM rice program that were carried out in the fields of small and relatively poor producers in two provinces in China. The article shows that the use of GM rice by farmers in preproduction trials allows farmers to reduce pesticide use and labor input. The effect on yields is less clear, and the findings suggest that there is very little if any yield effect. The article concludes by arguing that the commercialization of GM rice in China could have consequences that exceed the direct impacts on China’s farmers and could be a key step in breaking the world’s current plant biotechnology logjam.
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