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Non-food, field crops like maize, soybeans, canola, and cotton have historically been the focus of genetic engineering research programs, but while these commodities remain prominent, an increasing number of alternative GM plants and animals are undergoing development with transgenic traits. The array of modifications has also expanded from traditional producer-oriented improvements, such as herbicide tolerance and insect resistance, to include disease resistance and consumer-oriented improvements, including cosmetic and nutritional alterations.
Coexistence mechanisms that allow for the simultaneous cultivation and sale of GM, organic, and conventional agricultural commodities exist in many countries. When these strategies are successfully employed, farmers can choose between realising the benefits of biotechnology or receiving the price premiums linked to non-GM and organic products.
Many developing countries already employ successful coexistence strategies. China and India both successfully produce and export both GM and non-GM cotton. South Africa has produced GM crops for more than 10 years and also has a functional biosafety system to manage the risk related to the use of GM products. South Africa successfully trades both GM and non-GM crops using an IP system despite sharing borders with several countries that have banned GM products.
The two greatest hurdles to coexistence in developing countries will likely be governance efforts to prevent and discourage fraud against consumers willing to pay a premium for organic or conventional products and the legal capacity to address liability issues.
The final challenge for coexistence may have little to do with legal and regulatory capacity. Political factors, including the influence of anti-GMO groups in the policymaking arena, explain much of the relatively low uptake in agricultural biotechnology in the developing world.
Read full, original post: GMO trade in a world of fragmented consumer preferences and needs