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Genetically modified foods, trade, and developing countries

  • Nielsen, Chantal Pohl
  • Thierfelder, Karen
  • Robinson, Sherman

This paper analyzes price, production and trade consequences of changing consumer preferences regarding the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food production. The analytical framework used is an empirical global general equilibrium model, in which the entire food processing chain - from primary crops through livestock feed to processed foods - is segregated into genetically modified (GM) and non-GM lines of production. This model is used to analyze the implications of widespread use of genetically engineered crops in some regions whilst consumers in Western Europe and High- income Asia adopt a critical attitude toward GM foods. Two different representations of consumer preference changes are illustrated: (1) a change in price sensitivity: i.e. consumer demand is less sensitive to a decline in the price of GM foods relative to non-GM varieties, and (2) a structural demand shift: for a given price ratio consumers simply demand less of the GM variety relative to the non-GM variety. This analysis finds that developing countries adjust their trade patterns in response to preference changes in important trading partner countries. Non-GM varieties are diverted to GM-critical regions while GM varieties are sold to countries in which consumers are not sensitive to GM content. Furthermore, the development of segregated GM and non-GM food creates a potential niche market for producers if the non-GM characteristic can in fact be preserved and verified throughout the marketing system at reasonable costs.

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Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series TMD discussion papers with number 77.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:tmddps:77
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  1. Lewis, Jeffrey D. & Robinson, Sherman & Thierfelder, Karen, 1999. "After the negotiations: assessing the impact of free trade agreements in Southern Africa," TMD discussion papers 46, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Carl Pray & Danmeng Ma & Jikun Huang & Fangbin Qiao, 2001. "Impact of Bt Cotton in China," CEMA Working Papers 510, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  3. Pohl Nielsen, Chantal & Robinson, Sherman & Thierfelder, Karen, 2001. "Genetic Engineering and Trade: Panacea or Dilemma for Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(8), pages 1307-1324, August.
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