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 Assessment of the economic performance of GM crops worldwide

Assessment of the economic performance of GM crops worldwide

 Assessment of the economic performance of GM crops worldwide

Assessment of the economic performance of GM crops worldwide

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 - Kaphengst, Timo et al. Report to the European Commission, March 2011


 Do the results tell the whole story? While a wide range of literature on the analysis of GM crop performance is available, empirical sensitivity analyses with regard to  the  potential limitations of available and  comparable data were not widely applied. This study has aimed to generate a more complex  picture on how different kinds of research methods, as well as other varying factors, may  affect results on the economic performance of GM crops.

 The assessment conducted in this study shows that the manner in which data is gathered  (e.g. if a field trial or a survey was conducted) has an influence on the results. For instance,  cotton yield data observed in field trials are generally lower, but gross margins are higher,  than those observed in surveys. Differences in seed costs  and pesticide costs between Bt  and conventional cotton are higher in field trials than in surveys. In contrast, differences  between GM and conventional cotton are lower for management and labour costs in field  trials compared to results derived with surveys.

It could also be shown that the study conductor influences the performance estimates of GM  crops. For example, higher yield advantages of Bt cotton are observed if private companies  conducted the study  when compared to studies conducted by public institutions (e.g.  universities and governments).

Crop yields have a strong effect on the perception of the economic performance of GM crops  as higher seed costs of GM crops often have to be compensated by more income from the  crop itself, which can largely be achieved by higher yields. But yield levels in general depend  upon a wide range of different factors which go far beyond the mere choice between GM and  conventional crops. For example, this study demonstrated that the crop yields highly depend  on the appropriate variety (no matter if GM or conventional) chosen by a farmer in relation to  the weather and climatic conditions, under which the crop is grown.