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Golden Rice and the Looming GMO Trade Debate: Implication for the Poor


  • Chantal Pohl Nielsen

    () (Danish Research Institute of Food Economics, Copenhagen, Denmark)

  • Kym Anderson

    () (School of Economics, University of Adelaide, Australia)


The first generation of genetically modified crop varieties, currently most widespread in the maize and soybean sectors, sought to increase farmer profitability by improving agronomic traits. The next generation of biotech research is focusing also on breeding for attributes desired by consumers. Although not yet commercially available, a new variety of rice, known as ‘Golden Rice’, has been genetically engineered to contain a higher level of vitamin A. Thus in contrast with the current commercial applications of biotech crops, this new rice variety aims directly at benefiting consumers rather than producers. More specifically, it aims at improving the health of poor people in developing countries who rely on rice as their main staple food (or would be if it was cheaper) and whose diet is nutrient-deficient. This paper analyses empirically the potential economic effects of such an innovation in an environment of heated debates about the risks and benefits of these biotech developments. The emergence of genetically modified foods is generating policy reactions that are delaying the development and adoption of what promises to be a high-payoff technology, particularly for the world’s poor. These policy reactions may lead to trade disputes, in which case the way this GMO issue is addressed in the WTO’s dispute settlement body could have profound implications for poor households in developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Chantal Pohl Nielsen & Kym Anderson, 2003. "Golden Rice and the Looming GMO Trade Debate: Implication for the Poor," Centre for International Economic Studies Working Papers 2003-22, University of Adelaide, Centre for International Economic Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:adl:cieswp:2003-22

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stone, Susan F. & Matysek, Anna & Dolling, Andrew, 2002. "Modelling Possible Impacts of GM Crops on Australian Trade," Staff Research Papers 31913, Productivity Commission.
    2. Jackson, Lee Ann & Anderson, Kym, 2003. "WHY ARE US AND EU POLICIES TOWARD GMOs SO DIFFERENT?," 2003 Conference (47th), February 12-14, 2003, Fremantle, Australia 57898, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    3. Zimmermann, Roukayatou & Qaim, Matin, 2002. "Projecting The Benefits Of Golden Rice In The Philippines," Discussion Papers 18753, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    4. Dawe, D. & Robertson, R. & Unnevehr, L., 2002. "Golden rice: what role could it play in alleviation of vitamin A deficiency?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(5-6), pages 541-560.
    5. Maskus, Keith E. & Wilson, John S. & Tsunehiro Otsuki, 2000. "Quantifying the impact of technical barriers to trade : a framework for analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2512, The World Bank.
    6. Grant E. Issac & William A. Kerr, 2003. "Genetically Modified Organisms and Trade Rules: Identifying Important Challenges for the WTO," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 29-42, January.
    7. Nicholas Perdikis & William A. Kerr Shelburne & Jill E. Hobbs, 2001. "Reforming the WTO to Defuse Potential Trade Conflicts in Genetically Modified Goods," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(3), pages 379-398, March.
    8. Hertel, Thomas, 1997. "Global Trade Analysis: Modeling and applications," GTAP Books, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, number 7685.
    9. Huang, Jikun & Hu, Ruifa & van Meijl, Hans & van Tongeren, Frank, 2004. "Biotechnology boosts to crop productivity in China: trade and welfare implications," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 27-54, October.
    10. Chantal Nielsen & Kym Anderson, 2001. "Global market effects of alternative European responses to genetically modified organisms," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 137(2), pages 320-346, June.
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    More about this item


    GMOs; golden rice; rice policy; WTO agreements; consumer preferences;

    JEL classification:

    • C68 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computable General Equilibrium Models
    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • Q17 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agriculture in International Trade
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy


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