Socio-Economic Considerations in Biotechnology Regulation


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Small-scale farmers who grew Bt maize in the Philippines were also reported to have gained from the crop in South Africa is the first African country to commercialize GM crops.

In , Burkina Faso planted approximately , ha of Bt cotton while Sudan planted about 20, ha of Bt cotton, under both rainfed and irrigation schemes. Egypt planted hybrid Bt yellow maize and still remains the only country in North Africa to have commercialized GM crops. Studies have reported farm-level benefits that have translated into increased adoption rates.

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From an initial , hectares in , the area planted to GM crops increased to 2. Of the three GM crops grown, Bt maize is the leading crop in terms of hectarage under cultivation with a share of In addition, Bt maize occupies 86 percent of all land cultivated to Maize, be it conventional or GM. A study by Gouse et al. The commercial farmers were grouped into two, those cultivating under irrigation and those under rain-fed production systems.

Higher yields were observed for farmers who cultivated under irrigation systems. This group obtained Farmers who grew Bt maize under rain-fed conditions obtained 3. The smallholder Bt maize farmers group was compared to others who grew conventional hybrid and open pollinated maize varieties in terms of yield per hectare Gouse et al.

Bt maize recorded yield gains of 31 percent and percent over conventional hybrids and open-pollinated varieties respectively.

In , , hectares were planted to soybean in South Africa with 90 percent planted to herbicide tolerant soybean. This was achieved after eight years of commercialization.

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The impressive adopter rate has been attributed to cost savings from reduced insecticide use and facile crop management. The adoption rate for GM cotton remained at percent of which 95 percent were stacked traits James, Despite this contribution, the agricultural sector in the country is beset by a number of challenges including low yields, drought, poor soil, insect pests and lack of infrastructure and inadequate credit.

Though approximately , hectares of conventional cotton was planted in , the crop continues to record low average yields of kg per hectare.


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Studies have also reported crop losses in excess of 30 percent due to insect-pests of cotton Goze et al. After 5 years of conducting confined fields trials, approval was granted for the commercial cultivation of Bt cotton. In , Burkina Faso for the first time planted approximately 8, hectares of Bt cotton for seed production and initial commercialization, becoming the 10th country globally to grow commercial Bt cotton.

Vitale et al.

Socio-Economic Considerations in Biotechnology Regulation

For any agricultural technology, benefits are usually quantified in monetary terms. However, non-monetary benefit considerations including ease of operation, time savings, and lesser exposure to chemicals also inform farmer decisions Fernandez-Cornejo and Caswell, The observed annual increments and growth in global biotech crop adoption have been attributed to a number of factors including continued increases in the number of countries growing GM crops adopter countries , additional crop acreage deployment in adopter countries, the introduction of a new GM crops and traits, farm profitability, and the introduction of stacked or multi traits James ; Brookes and Barfoot, Similar considerations have driven the rapid increase in the adoption of GM crop varieties in countries that commercialized cultivation.

Beyond farm profitability, other less quantifiable non-pecuniary benefits have been observed to have had important influences for technology adoption Brookes and Barfoot, Yet despite this rapid growth, the industry has been beset by a wide-ranging and often emotionally charged debate on issues pertaining to the environment, human health, economics, ethics and politics. It must however be noted that these concerns are not peculiar to GM crops but rather are challenges inherent in the agricultural sector.

Discussions on and in-depth analysis of the benefits and perceived risks associated with GM crops are required but have been hindered by lack of information, lack of access to impact assessment analyses and in some cases misperceptions.

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The goal of public policy is to maximize the welfare of all its citizens and biosafety regulation can help achieve that by providing certainty, stability and disciplinary rigour to the social framework required for risk assessment, management and communication. The integration of socio-economic considerations, through analytically sound research and regulatory processes that engage the public meaningfully, is an important step toward the good governance of modern biotechnology.

However, information on and analysis of the social and economic impacts of modern biotechnology are lacking, and there is little experience in dealing with these issues in actual decision-making processes. The aim of this paper is to provide such information and analysis as a starting point for assisting national governments and other stakeholders in designing and implementing policies and mechanisms that incorporate socio-economic considerations into decision-making. Get our latest commentary, upcoming events, publications, maps, and data.

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Socio-economic Impacts of GM Technologies (Arnold Sauter)

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