GM Crops in Europe: How Much Value and for Whom?

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Abstract or Summary

Who gains from genetically modified (GM) crops in Europe? We review the global impact literature and assess the potential value of GM crops for Europe and how this value is shared among stakeholders. The literature suggests that, on average, two thirds of the global benefits are shared ‘downstream’, i.e., among domestic and foreign farmers and consumers, while only one third is extracted ‘upstream’, i.e., by gene developers and seed suppliers. Can this global rule of thumb be extrapolated to the EU? We review studies on GM maize, sugar beet and oilseed rape in Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the EU-25. The potential annual value of GM technologies for single Member States ranges from €0.1 million to €42 million, distributed according to the same rule of thumb. With a global annual value of €668 million, herbicide tolerance in sugar beet cultivation is the EU's most promising ‘first-generation’ GM technology The new Member States could also substantially benefit from GM crops. While the Czech Republic embraced GM maize in recent years, Hungary imposed a de facto ban on GM crops. By denying farmers access to potentially cost-reducing technologies, banning GM crops could be counterproductive for the future competitiveness of EU agriculture.

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