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Genetically Modified Crops and Food Security

Published: Monday, June 24, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, June 24, 2013
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Although GM crops are not a panacea for the problems of hunger and malnutrition, evidence suggests that GM crops can be an important component in a broader food security strategy.

Abstract
The role of genetically modified (GM) crops for food security is the subject of public controversy. GM crops could contribute to food production increases and higher food availability. There may also be impacts on food quality and nutrient composition. Finally, growing GM crops may influence farmers' income and thus their economic access to food. Smallholder farmers make up a large proportion of the undernourished people worldwide. Our study focuses on this latter aspect and provides the first ex post analysis of food security impacts of GM crops at the micro level. We use comprehensive panel data collected over several years from farm households in India, where insect-resistant GM cotton has been widely adopted. Controlling for other factors, the adoption of GM cotton has significantly improved calorie consumption and dietary quality, resulting from increased family incomes. This technology has reduced food insecurity by 15-20% among cotton-producing households. GM crops alone will not solve the hunger problem, but they can be an important component in a broader food security strategy.

The article is published online in PLoS ONE and is free to access.



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