The CIES began in early 2000 to undertake trade-related research on the economics of agricultural biotechnologies, particularly genetically modified organisms.
The new agricultural biotechnologies that are generating transgenic or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are attracting an exceptionally large degree of opposition to their production and trade. Environmental, ethical and food safety concerns have been raised by opponents to the development of transgenic crops. The vast majority of opponents want at least to have labels on products that may contain GMOs, while the most extreme of them (particularly in Western Europe) want to see GM crops totally excluded from production and consumption in their country. This extreme view contrasts with the more relaxed attitude towards the use of GMOs in pharmaceuticals, and swamps discussions of the positive attributes of the new technology. Also associated with that view is the idea that we should not try to measure the economic and other effects of GMOs because there is too much uncertainty surrounding the technology. We beg to differ with the latter sentiment, believing that without attempts to quantify the economic effects of GMOs, opinion formation and policy making would be even less well informed because it would have to depend even more on guesswork.
To illustrate the usefulness of quantitative models for informing GMO debates, the papers listed below draw on recent studies by CIES associates and co-authors that use existing empirical models of the global economy to examine what the effects of widespread adoption of genetically modified crop varieties in some (non-European) countries might be in light of different policy and consumer preference responses in Europe and elsewhere. The analyses so far have focused on GMO rice, cotton, maize and soybean.
Comments about the program are welcome, as are possibilities for research collaboration. Please contact the Program Coordinator Professor Kym Anderson.