Since the 1990s, genetic plant engineering has yielded a variety of applications for agricultural production, including traits intended to improve the shelf-life of produce, improve crop nitrogen fixation, and bolster control of agricultural pests. However, only two traits achieved commercial success. One trait confers insect resistance (IR) to crops by programming the crop plant to produce a naturally occurring chemical that is toxic to common insects. The other trait confers herbicide-tolerance (HT) and permits farmers to spray broad-spectrum chemicals to kill weeds without killing the crop plant. These traits have been widely adopted in production of corn, canola, cotton, and soybean.
The adoption of genetically engineered (GE) crops has significantly affected the economics of these crops and the welfare of farmers and consumers. It has also had spillover effects on other crops and markets. In this paper, we present findings of economic research on the impacts of GE crops at the farm level, factors that explain their adoption, impacts on prices, and effects on welfare of various segments in the economy. We rely on the findings of a new and thorough report by the National Research Council (NRC) (2010), a recent survey of agricultural biotechnology by Qaim (2009), and a new study by Sexton and Zilberman (2010).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/sexton/16/