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Genetically modified organisms in agriculture: social and economic implications


  • Davies, Ben
  • Richards, Caspian
  • Spash, Clive L.
  • Carter, Claudia


This paper argues that whether genetic modification of crops is seen as radically different or simply a further step of ‘traditional’ breeding techniques affects the perception of the associated benefits and risks of their commercialisation and the wider context scrutinised to assess potential consequences. Current risk regulation and GM legislation is narrowly defined, and largely concerned with scientific evidence of harm to human health and the environment. This contrasts with the public disquiet and a greater concern for overarching issues such as institutional and power structures (and the way political decisions are made), the role of science in society and the social and economic impacts of new technologies in the UK and abroad. The paper shows how the debate over GM technology has been framed and reflects the broader tensions within society. First, broadly political factors are discussed, followed by economic considerations to show how socio-economic factors influence and are influenced by novel technologies. Finally, welfare impacts and issues relating to less industrially developed economies are considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Davies, Ben & Richards, Caspian & Spash, Clive L. & Carter, Claudia, 2004. "Genetically modified organisms in agriculture: social and economic implications," MPRA Paper 38407, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:38407

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Les Levidow & Claire Marris, 2001. "Science and governance in Europe: Lessons from the case of agricultural biotechnology," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(5), pages 345-360, October.
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    More about this item


    risk; uncertainty; ignorance; regulation; governance; public policy; science; technology; health; environment; genetic modification; agriculture; value conflict; corporate power;

    JEL classification:

    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty


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