Despite the proclamations of the so-called “organic” movement and the anti-industry activists, small farmers in developing countries are benefiting significantly from genetically modified crops, according to a large review of the peer-reviewed research literature by US consultants. Writing in the International Journal of Biotechnology, Janet Carpenter of JE Carpenter Consulting LLC in Boylston, Massachusetts explains how they see improvements in health, education, debt repayment, maternal care services and food security.
The primary research literature tends to focus on the technology itself and the business aspects of the development and deployment of GM crops. However, there is also a substantial number of papers that have detail investigations of the broader set of socio-economic impacts, which has provided Carpenter with the necessary resources to conclude that, “The results of the available literature show that the impacts of the technology are multi-faceted and ripple through local and national economies.”
- While proportions vary, the literature show GM farmers receive a large share of the benefits. When prices change, consumers benefit from lower prices.
- Smaller farms in many countries benefit from adoption of GM crops in some cases more than big farms.
- The few studies that considered household income show greater increases among lower-income farmers in adopting GM crops.
- Labor requirements are often cut by reduced spraying and tillage but increased by greater crop yields.
- In studies of social welfare, GM adopters report improvements in health, education, debt repayment, maternal care services and food security.
Carpenter J.E. (2013). The socio-economic impacts of currently commercialised genetically engineered crops, International Journal of Biotechnology, 12 (4) 249. DOI: 10.1504/IJBT.2013.059248