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Genetically Modified Maize, Biodiversity, and Subsistence Farming in Mexico

Author

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  • Joachim Zietz
  • R. Alan Seals

Abstract

Concern over the loss of genetic diversity in the world’s field crops has increased due to the commercial introduction of genetically modified crops. Mexico is particularly sensitive to this issue, as it is the center of genetic diversity for maize and home to a large number of indigenous farmers who propagate this diversity. This paper analyzes to what extent the biodiversity of maize may be endangered as subsistence farmers are forced off their land. Off-farm migration is suggested as a potential rational response of farmers to the large and rapidly growing imports of maize from the U.S., a large share of which consists of genetically modified maize. The maize imports from the U.S. are seen not only as worsening the terms of trade of subsistence farmers but also as raising the risk of lower yields as indigenous varieties of maize may lose their resilience to environmental stress through contamination with genetically modified maize.

Suggested Citation

  • Joachim Zietz & R. Alan Seals, 2006. "Genetically Modified Maize, Biodiversity, and Subsistence Farming in Mexico," Working Papers 200604, Middle Tennessee State University, Department of Economics and Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:mts:wpaper:200604
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    File URL: http://capone.mtsu.edu/berc/working/Genetically%20modified%20maize%20-WP.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bellon, Mauricio R. & Adato, Michelle & Becerril, Javier & Mindek, Dubravka, 2006. "Poor farmers' perceived benefits from different types of maize germplasm: The case of creolization in lowland tropical Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 113-129, January.
    2. Margaret S. McMillan & Alix Peterson Zwane & Nava Ashraf, 2007. "My Policies or Yours: Does OECD Support for Agriculture Increase Poverty in Developing Countries?," NBER Chapters,in: Globalization and Poverty, pages 183-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Smale, Melinda & Bellon, Mauricio R & Aguirre Gomez, Jose Alfonso, 2001. "Maize Diversity, Variety Attributes, and Farmers' Choices in Southeastern Guanajuato, Mexico," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(1), pages 201-225, October.
    4. Bellon, Mauricio R., 2001. "Demand and Supply of Crop Infraspecific Diversity on Farms: Towards a Policy Framework for On-Farm Conservation," Economics Working Papers 7666, CIMMYT: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    genetically modified maize; biodiversity; maize imports; subsistence farming; supply response of farmers; off-farm migration; Mexico.;

    JEL classification:

    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment

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