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Trade in Genetically Modified Food: A Survey of Empirical Studies

This paper reviews a number of studies by academic economists, who have attempted to model the effects of the commercialisation of GM crops on the international trade in agricultural commodities. The authors, Chantal Pohl Nielsen, Sherman Robinson and Karen Thierfelder, neatly summarise and compare the findings of studies published between 2000 and 2002.

Although there is not yet much data available on which to build reliable models, the ability to compare the findings of a range of different studies allows the authors to draw some tentative conclusions about the trade-related effects of GM crops. They conclude that, “if the costs of labelling and market segmentation are not large”, the arrival of GM crops is not likely to generate extreme price differences between GM and non-GM commodities or radically alter the patterns of international trade. In addition, the models suggest that the benefits of the new technology are likely to be shared quite widely, although adopters are likely to benefit more than non-adopters. This effect is clearest in relation to developing countries.

By providing a clear and concise survey of the findings of a number of different studies, this paper is a valuable resource for academics and policy analysts. Although some of the language is technical, it is generally accessible to non-economists.

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