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Chapter 2 Genetically Modified Crops and Global Food Security

Genetically Modified Food and Global Welfare

ISBN: 978-0-85724-757-5, eISBN: 978-0-85724-758-2

Publication date: 25 July 2011


Purpose – The role of genetically modified (GM) crops for food security is the subject of controversial debates. Consequently, policy-makers are unsure whether this technology is suitable for developing countries. This chapter reviews the scientific evidence.

Methodology/approach – Starting from a food security definition, potential pathways of how GM crops could contribute to hunger reduction are analyzed conceptually. Furthermore, studies about the socioeconomic impacts of GM crop applications are reviewed. This includes ex post studies for present applications such as insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant crops, as well as ex ante studies for future GM technologies such as Golden Rice and drought-tolerant varieties.

Findings – GM crops can raise agricultural productivity and thus contribute to better food availability. Especially when tailored to small farm conditions, GM crops can also cause income increases for the rural poor, entailing better access to food. Nutritionally enhanced, biofortified GM crops could reduce problems of micronutrient malnutrition in a cost-effective way.

Research limitations – The examples observable so far are still limited. Impacts also depend on the wider institutional setting. Like any technology, GM crops are not a substitute but a complement to much needed institutional and infrastructure improvement in developing countries.

Social implications – The fact that available GM crops already contribute to poverty reduction and improved food security has not been widely recognized up until now.

Value of paper – Results presented in this chapter can contribute to a more constructive public debate, in which GM crop risks are not discussed out of the context of actual and potential benefits.



Qaim, M. (2011), "Chapter 2 Genetically Modified Crops and Global Food Security", Carter, C.A., Moschini, G. and Sheldon, I. (Ed.) Genetically Modified Food and Global Welfare (Frontiers of Economics and Globalization, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 29-54.



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