GMO Crop Impact on Global Economy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Evaluating the Economic and Environmental Impacts of a Global GMO Ban

A new study produced by Purdue University assesses the economic and environmental value of genetically engineered (GE) crops. The study considered two counterfactual scenarios “What economic and environmental effects would a global ban on GMO corn, soybeans and cotton have?” and “What would be the additional impact if global GMO adoption caught up to the U.S. and then a ban were implemented?”

According to the study agricultural economists found that replacing GE corn, soybeans and cotton with conventional varieties worldwide would cause a increase in food costs depending on the region. Disproportionally impacting poorer nations that spend up to 70% of income on food as opposed to the US where we spend only 10%. Countries, like the US, that export crops would have an economic gain from the increased food costs.

The study also found that if other countries adoption of GE crops matched that of the United States, global greenhouse gas emissions would fall by the equivalent of 0.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide and would allow about 2 million acres to return to forests and pastures. Whereas a global ban on GE crops would lead to a global increase in cropland by around 7.7 million acres, adding an equivalent of 0.92 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

“Some of the same groups that want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions also want to ban GMOs. But you can’t have it both ways,” said Wally Tyner, the James and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics. “Planting GMO crops is an effective way for agriculture to lower its carbon footprint.”

“It’s quite fine for people to be concerned about GMOs – there’s no scientific basis to those concerns, but that’s their right,” he said. “But the adverse impact on greenhouse gases without GMOs is something that is not widely known. It is important that this element enter into the public conversation.”

The paper is available at http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=71584

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