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More of Less isn’t Less of More: Assessing Environmental Impacts of Genetically Modified Seeds in Brazilian Agriculture

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  • Seixas, Renato
  • Silveira, José Maria

Abstract

We investigate the environmental effects due to pesticides for two different genetically modified (GM) seeds: insect resistant (IR) cotton and herbicide tolerant (HT) soybeans. Using an agricultural production model of a profit maximizing competitive farm, we derive predictions that IR trait decreases the amount of insecticides used and HT trait increases the amount of less toxic herbicides. While the environmental impact of pesticides for IR seeds is lower, for the HT seeds the testable predictions are ambiguous: scale as substitution effects can lead to higher environmental impacts. We use a dataset on commercial farms use of pesticides and biotechnology in Brazil to document environmental effects of GM traits. We explore within-farm variation for farmers planting conventional and GM seeds to identify the effect of adoption on the environmental impact of pesticides measured as quantity of active ingredients of chemicals and the Environmental Impact Quotient index. The findings show that the IR trait reduces the environmental impact of insecticides and the HT trait increases environmental impact due to weak substitution among herbicides of different toxicity levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Seixas, Renato & Silveira, José Maria, 2014. "More of Less isn’t Less of More: Assessing Environmental Impacts of Genetically Modified Seeds in Brazilian Agriculture," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170226, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea14:170226
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    File URL: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/170226/files/AAEA_RenatoSeixas_Paper.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Huang, Jikun & Hu, Ruifa & Rozelle, Scott & Qiao, Fangbin & Pray, Carl E., 2002. "Transgenic varieties and productivity of smallholder cotton farmers in China," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 46(3), pages 1-21.
    2. Fernandez-Cornejo, Jorge & Klotz-Ingram, Cassandra & Jans, Sharon, 2002. "Farm-Level Effects Of Adopting Herbicide-Tolerant Soybeans In The U.S.A," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 34(1), pages 1-15, April.
    3. Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Jeffrey M. Perloff, 2011. "An Overview of the Intended and Unintended Effects of U.S. Agricultural and Biotechnology Policies," NBER Chapters,in: The Intended and Unintended Effects of U.S. Agricultural and Biotechnology Policies, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Matin Qaim & Greg Traxler, 2005. "Roundup Ready soybeans in Argentina: farm level and aggregate welfare effects," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 32(1), pages 73-86, January.
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    Keywords

    Agricultural and Food Policy; Environmental Economics and Policy;

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