[Editor’s note: Stuart Smyth is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Saskatchewan.]
Genetically modified (GM) crops have been produced in the initial adopting countries for 20 years. Over this period of time, hundreds of articles and reports have been published by academic journals, government regulatory agencies, and national science organizations on the safety aspects of biotechnology and GM crops. In addition to this, there is a growing body of quantified peer reviewed literature on the economic and environmental benefits following the adoption of GM crops in both developed and developing countries. Some estimates place the economic benefits in the billions of dollars a year range.
In spite of the documentation of these economic and environmental benefits, GM crops face a challenging future. Environmental nongovernmental organizations (eNGOs) are relentless in their campaigns of misinformation about the dangers and hazards of GM crops. While eNGOs are unable to quantify their claims and accusations, their political and policy influences continue, particularly in Europe and numerous developing nations.
The result of this is regulatory delays for the approval of new GM crops and frequent international commodity trade failures, where shipments have been rejected due to the low-level presence of a GM crop. Taken in combination, the regulatory and trade challenges facing GM crops are having a detrimental impact on improving food security.
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