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10 Years of Biotech Crops: Global Economic and Environmental Impacts

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Genetically modified (GM) crops have now been grown commercially on a substantial scale for ten years. This talk will assess the impact this technology is having on global agriculture from both economic and environmental perspectives. We will examine specific global economic impacts on farm income and environmental impacts of the technology in respect of pesticide usage and greenhouse gas emissions for each of the countries 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 $5 billion in 2005 and $27 billion for the ten year period. The technology has reduced pesticide spraying by 224 million kg (equivalent to about 40% of the annual volume of pesticide active ingredient applied to arable crops in the European Union) and as a result decreased the environmental impact associated with pesticide use by over 15%. GM technology has also significantly reduced the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, which, in 2005, was equivalent to removing 4 million cars from the roads.

This talk is part of the SciSoc – Cambridge University Scientific Society series.

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