Policy Documents

GM Crops: The Global Economic and Environmental Impact?—The First Nine Years 1996?–2004

Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot –
February 10, 2005

2005 represents the tenth planting season since genetically modified (GM) crops were first grown in 1996. This milestone provides the opportunity to critically assess the impact this tech- nology is having on global agriculture. This study examines spe- cific global economic impacts on farm income and environmental impacts of the technology with respect to pesti- cide usage and greenhouse gas emissions for each of the coun- tries where GM crops have been grown since 1996. The analysis shows that there have been substantial net economic benefits at the farm level amounting to a cumulative total of $27 billion. The technology has reduced pesticide spraying by 172 million kg and has reduced the environmental footprint associ- ated with pesticide use by 14%. The technology has also signifi- cantly reduced the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, which is equivalent to removing five million cars from the roads.

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