Table of Contents

Handbook on Agriculture, Biotechnology and Development

Handbook on Agriculture, Biotechnology and Development

Elgar original reference

Edited by Stuart J. Smyth, Peter W.B. Phillips and David Castle

This book is a compendium of knowledge, experience and insight on agriculture, biotechnology and development. Beginning with an account of GM crop adoptions and attitudes towards them, the book assesses numerous crucial processes, concluding with detailed insights into GM products. Drawing on expert perspectives of leading authors from 57 different institutions in 16 countries, it provides a unique, global overview of agbiotech following 20 years of adoption. Many consider GM crops the most rapid agricultural innovation adopted in the history of agriculture. This book provides insights as to why the adoption has occurred globally at such a rapid rate.

Chapter 6: South American adopters: Argentina and Brazil

Sybil D. Rhodes

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, development studies, economics and finance, agricultural economics, environment, agricultural economics, biotechnology, environmental sociology, innovation and technology, biotechnology


Several South American countries have been early adopters in the cultivation of crops using genetic modification (GM) technology. Among the South American adopters, Argentina and Brazil stand out both in terms of their policies favorable to the use of agbiotech and the extent of production. In 2008, for example, according to data from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Argentina and Brazil were numbered second and third respectively in the ranking of countries according to land under cultivation with GM crops, while Paraguay ranked seventh and Uruguay ninth. Relevant crops include cotton, corn and some others, but the explanation for the early adoption of agbiotech in this region has much to do with the expansion of world demand for soy in the past several decades. GM technology, in combination with the herbicide glyphosate and no-till seeding, have been key developments that have transformed an important swathe of South America into one of the world's largest production sites for soybeans and soy products traded on the international market. Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay provided 55 per cent of the world's soy exports in 2008 (Turzi, 2010). Most aspects of the soy market are dominated by multinational companies, from upstream research to downstream marketing and processing. GM technology has favored the relative position of multinational technology and seed companies within the global commodity chain. Distributing, processing and trading companies have also benefited.

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