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What Would Happen If We Don’t Have GMO Traits?

World Agricultural Resources and Food Security

ISBN: 978-1-78714-516-0, eISBN: 978-1-78714-515-3

Publication date: 15 July 2017


The purpose of this chapter is to ask and answer the question of what would happen if Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) plant materials were banned. We report on two studies – one with United States only ban and one with a global ban. We used a global computable general equilibrium (CGE) model, Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP), for the analysis. This model has been used in hundreds of published papers on trade, energy, land use, and environmental issues. Our use of the model was to estimate the crop yield benefits for the major GMO crops, and then to convert this to a loss if the GMO traits were banned. We then shocked the GTAP model with the yield losses and estimate economic, land use, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission impacts. We found that losing the GM technology would cause commodity and food prices to increase and also bring about a significant increase in GHG emissions. The increase in emissions is caused by the need to convert forest and pasture to compensate for the lost production. Another interesting conclusion of the global ban study is that economic well-being for the United States, the world’s largest GMO user, actually increases with a ban. Many regions that ban or use little GMO varieties like the European Union, India, China, and Japan all see economic well-being decrease. These counterintuitive results are driven mainly by trade patterns. Therefore GMO technology helps agriculture reduce its carbon footprint. Without this technology, agricultural land-use GHG emissions increase as do food prices. Some groups would like to see GMOs banned and also see GHG emissions fall. You cannot have it both ways.



Taheripour, F. and Tyner, W.E. (2017), "What Would Happen If We Don’t Have GMO Traits?", World Agricultural Resources and Food Security (Frontiers of Economics and Globalization, Vol. 17), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 53-67.



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